Give customers what they want: Eco-friendly products to sell in 2021

Consumer buying behaviour informs how and what products you sell as an online marketplace. In order to position yourself as a leader among your competitors and meet the customer’s needs, you must recognise the customer’s motivations for their purchases, determine factors that affect buying decisions and stay on top of consumer trends on a wider scale.

Give customers what they want: Eco-friendly products to sell in 2021

As awareness of the climate crisis has grown, the number of consumers wanting to buy sustainable and ethical products has been increasing steadily over recent years, with 65% of people preferring to buy from a purpose-driven, sustainable brand, according to the 2019 Harvard Business Review.

As of 2020, almost 80% of customers surveyed by IBM have claimed that sustainability is very important to them, 70% of whom say they would pay on average 35% more for an environmentally conscious brand. The desire for better products is consistent across all age groups.


source: IBM

Consumer Motivation

The story, motivation and process behind the brand and the product has always been important, as consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand they feel a connection to, and one that is aligned with their values.

When it comes to marketing eco-friendly products, today’s consumers are very much aware of greenwashing, something that will cause them to quickly lose their trust in the company and look to other brands with greater honesty about their level of sustainability.

It is imperative therefore, to provide full transparency of the entire supply chain, to gain and maintain the customer’s trust. A 2020 study by Zeno revealed that consumers are between 4 - 6 times more likely to trust, purchase from, recommend and publicly defend a company with a strong purpose for positive change.

Eco-friendly e-commerce developments are not only driven by consumer trends, but also the United Nations’ Global Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals promote responsible production and consumption, with increased resource and energy efficiency.

Results from organisations already implementing these changes to their production chain and adopting a business model in line with the circular economy approach have not only reduced their carbon footprint, but have also seen increased savings.

With that said, here are some ideas of eco-friendly products to sell in 2021.

Reusable products

  1. Food wraps Replacing disposable clingfilm, companies like the Beeswax Wrap company offer a wonderful selection of reusable food wraps adorned with a plethora of colourful patterned designs, all completely plastic free.

  2. Straws These can be found made from a number of different materials instead of plastic, including rice, grass, metal and bamboo. Jungle Straws is a great example of responsibly sourced, biodegradable bamboo straws.

  3. Earbuds Although small in size, cotton buds have a huge impact on ocean pollution and have a damaging production process. Companies such as Last Object have produced an earbud that is reusable, durable and easy to clean.

  4. Produce bags An upgrade from standard resealable plastic bags that can be re-used for a certain amount of time, more durable storage bags such as mason jar bags are good for storing food at home, carrying snacks when out and about, and are also dishwasher safe.

    In a similar vein, mesh produce bags are useful for customers wanting to purchase loose food items when shopping. As supermarkets continue to receive pressure about reducing plastic, this item will become more desirable for many consumers.

  5. Makeup wipes The average makeup wipe takes around 100 years to decompose. Reusable makeup removal pads can be used by customers, washed, and used again multiple times.

Recycled products

  1. Aluminium foil Usually a power intensive process, The Plastic Free Shop produces recycled aluminium foil that requires 95% less energy than usual.

  2. Children’s toys Manufacturing plastic toys consumes a lot of energy and is very harmful to the environment, however companies like Green Toys have created toys completely from recycled materials.

  3. Footwear For several years now, many footwear brands have recognised that consumers are preferring sustainably sourced and ethically made shoes. Companies such as Adidas have partnered with Parley For Oceans to create trainers made from plastic waste found in the ocean.

  4. Portable charger Also using plastic waste, as well as reclaimed batteries from electronic waste, Gomi produce beautiful, uniquely designed portable chargers.

  5. Furniture Interior design companies such as Noho create chairs using Aquafil’s ECONYL, a sustainable material made from recovered waste material.

Pioneering products

  1. Vodka Air Company has created “the world’s cleanest, highest quality and most sustainable spirit.” Capturing carbon dioxide from the air and using their patented technology, they have created impurity-free alcohols, from vodka to fragrances and sanitizers. Inputting only air, solar energy and water, the process has net-negative carbon emissions.

  2. Knitwear It is common knowledge that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries worldwide. By sourcing wool from regenerative farms, working with suppliers who use renewable energy and zero-waste knitting, and investing in biodiversity projects, Sheep Inc have created the world’s first carbon-negative knitwear.

  3. Coffee pods Most coffee pods are not recycled and leave a large carbon footprint. Companies such as Halo have designed fully compostable pods made from waste sugarcane, that along with their biodegradable packaging, will all degrade in a domestic compost in one month.

  4. Diamonds Diamond mining is an incredibly unsustainable process that destroys the earth, pollutes rivers, and results in huge carbon emissions. Using captured carbon dioxide, solar and wind energy, and collected rainfall, Sky Diamond has created the first and only sustainable, carbon-negative diamonds in the world.


Emily Da Silva

Digital Marketing
Emily D'Silva is a digital storyteller and content creator. In addition to creating content for businesses, she also contributes to online international publications on topics focussed around business and marketing, tech innovation, design and culture and sustainable solutions.
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