Innovations That Matter

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5 Innovations making shopping more sustainable


With the holiday season approaching, here are our top five innovations from recent months that are helping make shopping greener.

‘Sustainable Shopping’ represents an oxymoron for many, and rightly so. Issues like clothing miles, precious resources and the use of packaging all come at an environmental cost.

Fortunately, sustainability is the new fashion trend. As a result, there has been an explosion in sustainable alternatives such as biodegradable packaging and second-hand clothing. Industry specialists have predicted that 13 per cent of the clothing purchased by women could be second hand by 2028. Likewise, the expansion of e-commerce presents new opportunities for sustainability. However, is this enough? 

Since being ethically stocked is likely insufficient to solve climate change, companies are conjuring innovative ways to integrate green-education into the shopping experience. For example, outdoor clothing company Patagonia has opened a pop-up café in central London, offering visitors the opportunity to “learn how to make a positive difference” through workshops and climate activist training courses. Likewise, when customers buy a jumper from Sheep Inc., they are also sent regular updates about the very sheep from which their jumper was made.

With the holiday season approaching, here are our top five innovations from recent months that are helping make shopping greener. 


Photo source Better Packaging

Australia’s Better Packaging Company has created a form of eco-friendly packaging for e-commerce shipping. The biodegradable and recyclable bags are part of a larger effort to reduce packaging waste, the company says.

Better Packaging Company currently offers several alternatives to traditional packaging, including plastic alternatives. The company also produces an envelope/pack line made from limestone quarry waste, which feels like paper but is water-proof and recyclable. 

A second line offers compostable courier bags, known as ‘Real Dirt Bags’, which mimic plastic but are biodegradable. This line also offers compostable bubble bags, courier labels, ziplock and poly bags, as well as flow wrap.

The company’s founders were inspired to create eco-friendly alternatives to packaging after facing the volume of waste produced by e-commerce. Their products are now used by retailers around the world, including Etsy suppliers and L’Oréal.


Photo source Sheep Inc.

When customers buy a jumper from Sheep Inc., not only do they receive a high-quality product made from the merino wool of sheep from rural New Zealand, but they are also sent regular updates about the very sheep from which their jumper was made. 

Labelling itself “the world’s first carbon-negative fashion brand”, when owners of a Sheep Inc. jumper scan a yellow tag at the bottom of the product, they are privy to its manufacturing process and carbon footprint. The company will also send updates about the customer’s allocated sheep: “its major life events. Where it is. What it’s up to. When it’s had a haircut. Even whether it’s had lambs.”

Both the tagging and the sheep are unique selling points that Edzard van der Wyck, co-founder of Sheep Inc., hopes they will make consumers consider the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

It is not enough anymore to focus purely on carbon neutrality and sustainability, according to van der Wyck. The product must have its own selling point, and the sheep serves as a reminder of the price of fashion. Sheep Inc. is transparent about the way the farms that they work with are environmentally friendly, and that the company themselves reinvest 5% of revenue into biodiversity projects around the world, offsetting the carbon footprint of the product’s journey. 


Photo source Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash

 Australian-based Flora&Fauna is creating an interactive marketplace for zero-waste goods and services. Customers will be able to recycle and learn about eco-friendly lifestyles through workshops and pop-ups.

The store will also include the first bulk eco-refill station in the country, providing customers with the opportunity to bring their own containers to refill with shampoo, conditioner and laundry detergent. 

Flora&Fauna’s founder, Julie Mathers, created the store five years ago to help promote zero-waste and cruelty-free living. At that time, it was an online shop, offering everything from bamboo toothbrushes to ethical makeup. However, the new bricks and mortar store in Sydney goes beyond offering zero-waste goods. The aim of the store is to provide a space for sharing advice and helping shoppers make better choices. 


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Italian second-hand clothing retailer Armadio Verde is expanding to sell men’s clothing. The move, which builds on the site’s existing women’s and children’s collections, underscores its plans to expand in Italy and abroad. 

Armadio Verde (Green closet in Italian) aims to promote the circular economy in clothing. It recently launched a men’s section in response to the growing demand for used clothing

The startup, already promoted as the top fashion reseller in Italy, offers clients an easy way to exchange unwanted clothing for “new” second-hand items. Customers register on the site and then send in used clothing. In return, they receive points in an online, digital wallet. Shoppers “spend” points and cash to make purchases.

The system has already proven to be popular in Italy and France, the company says. It started as a platform for swapping children’s clothes in Italy in 2015. The company plans to expand to other European countries in the future. 


Photo source Koin Rewards Website

UK-based Koin Rewards has launched a sustainable rewards program in collaboration with card linking API Fidel. The company’s goal is to build a community of traders and users based on shared environmental values.

The app automatically rewards shoppers upon completing a responsible purchase. Moreover, Fidel’s API technology allows users to connect their Mastercard, Visa or Amex card to their Koin Rewards. This lets them convert their Koin into cash to spend however they wish. Alternatively, the app allows users to generate vouchers to be used at any of Koin’s partner merchants. 

“What makes the innovation special? It is a human incentive platform designed for the greater good.” Curt Hopkins, CEO of Koin Rewards, told Springwise.