In 2020 alone, companies sent nearly 6 billion pounds of returned items to landfills across the globe. The frustrating part is that the vast majority of these returned items are still usable, quality items. But they can’t be restocked due to various reasons: removed tags, “worn” items, and torn packaging.
In 2022, we believe that true sustainability means more than driving a hybrid and reducing greenhouse gasses. It means providing social and economic equity by reusing and repurposing unwanted returned items—and giving them to people who need it the most.
Learn more about how sustainability impacts your long-term growth in the Future of Merchant Growth
Here are 13 ecommerce brands who are committed to sustainability and equity.
If you’ve never felt the coziness of a Brooklinen bedsheet, pillowcase, or blanket, you are depriving yourself of the ultimate comfort. If you’re sick of bedsheets and fabrics that just leave you literally itching for more, consider switching to Brooklinen today.
They donate every returned but unsellable item to those who need them most. Brooklinen has partnered with Good360 to offer returned items as resources for the most vulnerable communities: the unhoused, women, BIPOC citizens, and those affected by income and resource inequality.
Since 1985, this outdoors gear and apparel company has pledged at least 1% of their total annual sales revenue to help preserve and restore the natural environment they (and we) love so much.
At present, they’ve awarded over $140M to global environmental groups. And, after 50 years of running the forward-thinking outdoors brand, company founder Yvon Chouinard decided to transfer ownership of Patagonia (valued at roughly $3B) to a non-profit who’ll use the company’s continued growth and profits to fight climate change and protect wild lands.
If that wasn’t enough to love them, Patagonia partners with Worn Wear to repair and reuse Patagonia garments to extend their lifecycle; and, if items can’t be repaired, they recycle it. Their goal is simple, bold, and audacious: “repair and reuse as many products as possible and recycle 100% of everything else.” We see you, Patagonia. Cheers.
The company is well-lauded for its generous donations to charities across the globe like the Ronald McDonald House and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Network.
But they also have donated over 200K mattresses since 2011 to those who need it most: the unhoused, natural disaster relief organizations, veterans’ homes, and many others. In addition to implementing solar power at their largest manufacturing plant, they source 100% renewable energy for all US and EU manufacturing. Perhaps our favorite part of all: Tempurpedic donates any unusable returned products to Good360. From there, the mattresses get donated as essential goods to whoever needs them most.
The industrial supply giant made headlines in 2020 as they dedicated their operations to providing the best resources to help combat exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Additionally, the company spent the majority of 2020 to help support and strengthen communities in need. They donated nearly 2 million N95 masks to the Children First Fund (helping Chicago Public Schools) and gave $500K to the American Red Cross (annually). The industry giant also partners with Good360 donating returned items they can’t put back on the shelf – ensuring they get to whoever needs them most.
This is the company that invented shoes that make one feel as though they were walking on a cloud. In 2020, they also donated $500K worth of their sneakers to medical workers – in just five days.
The company continues to be known for its charitable habits, such as offering all their shoppers a chance to donate pairs of shoes to healthcare workers at half price. Allbirds recently initiated a sustainable model for used shoes, allowing customers to trade in used Allbirds for $20 of store credit. The used shoes, in turn, are given to communities in need.
Instead of trying to get customers to give back unwanted items to sell at a discounted price, the Swedish home furnishing giant has also partnered with Good360 to donate unwanted, returned items.
During 2020, they also donated nearly $2M worth of supplies to various partners and government agencies to give those in need access to blankets, bedding, and storage. Lastly, for items the company can resell, they’ve engineered a “Buyback & Resell” program to ensure no items go to waste.
The electronics and home supply store is known for their commitment to increasing access to STEM education by building a network of 100 Teen Tech Centers (by 2025). But they’ve also raised more than $125M to help St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
The tech conglomerate also utilizes best practices to enhance their returns/exchanges process to ensure no return goes to waste – and that any item they can’t resell gets donated.
As part of a revolutionary policy-reform, Target announced in 2021 that they no longer wish to receive returned items that are unlikely to be eligible for resell.
Instead, Target wants unsatisfied customers to either keep the undesired item – or, better yet, donate it. When it comes to items that are unlikely to resell, Target insists the item be donated and that all customers will receive a full refund. As if one needed more reasons to shop at Target, they’ve also given 5% of all profits to charity – for the last 70 years.
This ecommerce home and office decor company is committed to reducing their carbon footprint, decreasing the number of unwanted items in landfills, and reducing the number of resources needed to construct new items.
The company partners with various retailers and brick and mortar home supply companies across the globe to find homes for unwanted, unsold, and returned items. Currently, FloorFound works with JoyBird, Sabai, Living Spaces, EQ3, and more. Instead of making products themselves, they sell used, returned, and refurbished goods received from the companies they partner with.
As a premier FloorFound partner, Floyd specializes in home and outdoor decor items, hardware, and accessories. However, one of their biggest causes is being a safe, sustainable location for mattress donation.
If you buy a mattress from Floyd that you don’t like and the return window passes by, the company will still give you a full refund if you provide proof that you returned your mattress to a 501(c)(3). Additionally, for a fee, you can have one of Floyd’s Customer Experience team members pick the mattress up and donate it for you.
In addition to the revolutionary Amazon Renewed product section – where customers can purchase previously-owned and fully-restored items (with a full money-back guarantee) – Amazon remains one of the most sustainability-focused companies across the globe.
The ecommerce mega-giant also employs a partnership with the non-profit, Good360, to donate unsellable goods and returned items. In 2022, Amazon donated 100 million returned items – all to non-profits: an average of 50K donations to those in need, each day.
The company offers a proprietary and robust giving platform called SparkGood to connect its buyers with local causes, charities, and nonprofits to donate unwanted items – especially if they’re return items.
Walmart also has the ambitious goal of eliminating 1B metric tons of greenhouse gasses by 2030. In addition to working with countless non-profits, Walmart is also a premier partner with the nonprofit, Good360, within the Retail Donation Partnership Program. This program allows Walmart to manage returns and anticipate better supply chain needs and demands while reducing waste and preventing usable products from going to landfills.
Known for its charitable activities for nearly a decade, Home Depot made headlines in 2013 for their product donation milestone of giving $150M to local nonprofits across the country.
The organization is also the proprietor of Home Depot Foundation: National Partnerships that work with over a dozen high-impact nonprofits like the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, and Habitat for Humanity among others. Lastly, the Home Depot is also a proud partner of Good360, ensuring that unwanted/returned items find a good home and go to those who need them most.
Convert your returns into donations
At Loop, we’re more than proud that our technology provides enough granular data for our partners to determine why items are returned. It also provides transparency into which can be restocked. Additionally, if an item can’t be restocked, we help our partners donate the returned items, instead.
If you are also future-focused and want to reduce your environmental impact, get in touch today to see how our platform can help you understand your return data and help you achieve your sustainability goals.
Want to get better sustainable returns? Loop can help. Book a demo today.