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Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Sustainable Shipping Tips for Small Businesses With Veena Harbaugh From Sendle - Ep. 15

December 6, 2023 | 41:45

In This Episode

Many small businesses want to incorporate sustainability initiatives into their operations but aren’t sure how to get started. Veena Harbaugh, director of sustainability at Sendle, reveals that sustainable shipping doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive—even for the smallest organizations.

Finding innovative solutions

With limited time and resources, how are small businesses supposed to compete with larger ones? Veena believes they can use constraints to their advantage. “Where there is a barrier for small businesses, those are the exact entrepreneurs finding solutions. … They can embed that [sustainable solution] into the core of what they do.”

Cutting costs and saving the planet

Do you have to choose between sustainability and the financial health of your business? Surprisingly, no. While sustainable solutions are often seen as an “elite or more expensive option,” they actually go hand-in-hand with cost savings. By eliminating waste, businesses save money and minimize their carbon footprint at the same time. 

Three shipping sustainability tips

The following sustainability measures are simple but can make a big difference. 

  • Rightsize packaging. Save money by not paying to ship half-empty boxes, and save the environment by packing trucks more efficiently. 
  • Cut down on returns. Keep products out of landfills and avoid paying for return shipping. Try improving product descriptions and sizing charts so people know what they’re getting.
  • Work with eco-conscious partners. Solutions like Sendle and EasyPost offer 100% carbon neutral shipping at no extra cost. 



Lori Boyer  00:00  

Welcome to Unboxing Logistics. I'm Lori Boyer, and I'm the host of this podcast from EasyPost. In this podcast, we dive into all of the latest trends and going ons in the logistics and shipping industry. And today, our guest is the one and only Veena Harbaugh. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. Veena, introduce yourself to our audience.

Veena Harbaugh  00:28  

Thank you so much, Lori. It's wonderful to be with you all today. I am the director of sustainability at Sendle. 

Lori Boyer  00:34  

Okay, you guys heard that. The director of sustainability. So cool. I was just telling Veena she's forgotten more about sustainability than I've ever known. So today I get to be the one asking all the stupid questions, getting to know Sendle.

I bet a bunch of you haven't heard of Sendle, so we're gonna find out what in the world Sendle even is. We're gonna talk about sustainability. This is specifically, shout out small businesses today. You are our focus. I know Sendle really focuses on small businesses and does incredible things for small businesses.

So today, small business, is your day. We're going to be talking all to you about your sustainability options. So thank you so much Veena for being here. But before we get going. We always like, our community really likes to get to know the people in the industry. I feel like, you know, we're all kind of fighting the same battle out here, but we don't always know each other, our fellow soldiers.

So, Veena today, I am actually just going to ask you questions. We often do a this or that, but Veena is smart, funny, and amazing. So, I'm going to give her the leveled-up version of get to know you. 

Veena Harbaugh  01:45  

Let's do it. 

Lori Boyer  01:46  

Okay, Veena. Suddenly, there's 25 hours in the day. What would you do with your extra hour each day? 

Veena Harbaugh  01:55  

I would sit and read with my dog, which is such a, like, quiet answer for someone who's very active, but if I get like 10 minutes of that in the morning, it's just the best. So if I had one more hour of that, of just reading and letting her sit on my lap, yeah, that would be beautiful. 

Lori Boyer  02:14  

You'd love it. Now, does your dog read? 

Veena Harbaugh  02:16  

She, she doesn't read and she really could use a little bit more education to be honest. 

Lori Boyer  02:24 

Okay. So, I mean, I think that's a perfect use of your time then. She can get a little more exposed to the reading element. Awesome. 

Veena Harbaugh  02:30  

A lot to learn. 

Lori Boyer  02:31 

Okay. What is something you're looking forward most to when you retire? 

Veena Harbaugh  02:37  

Oh, this is funny because I almost already sort of live a little bit retired. My husband and I have a truck camper so we can get out of the RV with the older crew a good amount. So I think that that's it. We just, we love to get outside, explore the outdoors, and I would, I would just want to spend more time doing that. 

Lori Boyer  02:58  

Would you hop in your RV and live there full time? 

Veena Harbaugh  03:01  

Yeah. Yeah. We, we bought a truck camper that's, that is big enough that we could see, see living out of it for, for an extended amount of time with, with that as a dream in our back pocket for sure.

Lori Boyer  03:13  

Okay. I can totally see why you work as the director of sustainability because you care about our planet! You want to be able to go out and visit it still, so that's awesome. 

Veena Harbaugh  03:22  

It's, yeah, it's, it's such a beautiful, I mean, anytime I get outside, it, it does really ground me in terms of why we do this work, and then also, it's just that, you know, self to whatever stress I've got, got going on.

Lori Boyer  03:34  

Are you the kind of person then who can survive without a, without a cell phone? Without the internet? 

Veena Harbaugh  03:39  

I do. I do like connection. I, but I, I would be happy for an extended period of time to not have a device for sure. 

Lori Boyer  03:48  

I think that I want to do that, but then I'm a little bit terrified of it. Yeah. At the same time I'm like, I want to just disconnect, but then I'm like, so. All right. Last question. Are you professional clothes, casual clothes, or sweatpants kind of gal? 

Veena Harbaugh  04:06  

I like to live in the full range. I, I start, start the day with some sweatpants and, and a hoodie. But by now I, I do like to, to put on a shirt. I love vintage clothes. And so getting to kind of dabble and express myself with that, I like to, but I like to not, you know, feel like I have to. So this work from home is, is kind of perfect for me. 

Lori Boyer  04:28  

Wow. So you're, you're doing the whole range in a single day. 

Veena Harbaugh  04:30  


Lori Boyer  04:32  

You're like, Hey. 

Veena Harbaugh  04:33  

Then we get the workout clothes in. So I, I do produce a lot of laundry, unfortunately. 

Lori Boyer  04:37  

I was going to say, a lot of laundry, it sounds like. Hey, that's awesome. Okay. Veena, we are going to be talking sustainability today. This is a topic that it's been really interesting to me because, over the last few months, you know, I do a lot of webinars.

I meet a lot of people, talk to different people in our industry all the time. And it's a big question in people's minds. It's something that's coming up a lot. Just recently, actually, just in the last few days, last weeks, we here at EasyPost announced that we are doing a 100 percent carbon neutral shipping option, totally free.

So that is super exciting. And so I am really interested to hear from some of our partners, some of the other people in the industry, what is going on in your area and, and really, again, for our small businesses who are here today, what they can do to kind of get things moving. So let's first by just talking about who Sendle is, you know, what Sendle does, and then we're going to talk a little bit about sustainability.

Veena Harbaugh  05:40  

Yeah, absolutely. And first, that's so exciting. 

Lori Boyer  05:42  

It's so exciting. I've been so thrilled. 

Veena Harbaugh  05:45  

Yeah. And so Sendle, we do shipping for small businesses, as you mentioned. And since day one, we've, we've been 100 percent carbon neutral. So we work with a network of carriers to kind of stitch that together. So it's a seamless experience for small businesses shipping where you know, they're having just kind of a simple, simple process where they're, they're processing their orders as they would. But then their, their shipment might go through a number of different regional carriers. And we, since kind of day one, part of our ethos was we want to do best we can for small businesses, but also for the planet and that there doesn't need to be a trade-off there.

So we have offset 100 percent of the shipping emissions. And so we're so excited. Yeah, to see more companies doing the same thing because we've always seen it as, you know, we don't want to be the sustainable shipper and just kind of have a segment. We really want to be pushing for change for the whole industry.

And so seeing more and more companies, you know, follow similar practices or, or really work on reductions in their, their, shipping networks are, yeah, signs, signs that, that we're moving forward in a, in a good way. 

Lori Boyer  06:54  

Yeah, it's awesome. It's companies like Sendle and many of you out there. Shout out to you guys who are really kind of the tip of the spear here for sustainability.

You're great examples to everybody in the industry. What, what can you explain about how maybe Sendle's approach to sustainability may be a little bit different or what is unique about Sendle and what you do for sustainability? 

Veena Harbaugh  07:16  

Yeah, I think the most unique thing is it's, it was from day one. So it was really embedded and, and I kind of.

A longer story, but before there was Sendle there was another company that was really focused as an environmental solution. And it was like free cycle or buy nothing, but with the shipping component and in the process of building that company, which was called 2share, that we ended up solving for a lot of the pain points that small businesses feel with shipping. So we were able to, you know, do better rates than, than people were able to access through. This was in Australia where, where Sendle started. So better rates than Australia Post. We were able to pick up from people's homes, which was a big barrier.

And so in the process of, of solving for those pain points of, you know, why should someone ship an item to a stranger to keep it from going to a landfill versus, you know, just kind of dumping it. When we solve for those pain points, we also built this incredible shipping solution. So, from the very beginning, it had this environmental ethos. And one that was really innovating in terms of seeing what the, what the breakdowns were and the current shipping network and, and solving those. And it, it created the perfect solution for, for small businesses. 

Lori Boyer  08:30  

Yeah. I'm glad you brought up small businesses. I invited you specifically to talk to our small businesses today, because I know that Sendle has had a real focus and a real emphasis on helping small business. What do you feel like, or maybe, especially around sustainability, what are some of the challenges small businesses face when it comes to sustainability? 

Veena Harbaugh  08:49  

There, there are a lot, and I think a lot of that comes down to, well, there's some advantages too, so it's not, it's not all problems, but I think a lot of it, and the small businesses that we work with, you know, some of them are side hustle businesses even, so they're, they don't even have fully dedicated time of one person, and then they're graduating to then, you know, being an, you know, moving from the living room to the garage and maybe being a solopreneur. And oftentimes it is that just time cost for entrepreneurs. 

And and then same thing with shipping where small businesses are often paying, you know, two to three times more than big businesses and getting worse service. There's they're facing that in every aspect of their business. So they're at the back of the line, the manufacturing, they're at the bottom of the priority list for the companies they're working with on advertising.

So it really compounds across a lot of aspects. And then I would say that it's, an opportunities for small business is a lot of them are, you know, really like within the core of what they're doing, they're solving for something, right? So that's either some social breakdown, some environmental breakdown, and then even the challenges they face, that creates more opportunity for solution.

So just one example of a Sendle customer called Wanderruff, who does sustainable accessories and beds and stuff for dogs. They were at the back of their line for the manufacturer of getting some new sustainable materials. And so instead, they pivoted to work with a local textile company in their area and to use their discards. So oftentimes, I feel like where there is a, a barrier for small businesses.

Those are the exact entrepreneurs finding some solutions. And, you know, a lot of our sustainability problems come from just not kind of reexamining how systems are operating. And so if if. small businesses are able to do that and find some solutions, they really can embed that into the core of, of what they do.

So it isn't a trade-off around being, being sustainable or growing their business. Those things really line up once you, once you solve for some fundamental solutions with, you know, what your business does. 

Lori Boyer  11:10  

I love that and it's interesting because it kind of ties back into Sendle's original, you know, kind of ethos that you mentioned that it was about sustainability from day one. And so it kind of sounds like what you're saying is small businesses as well can build sustainability into their practices while you're small and as they grow, then that's already there. 

Veena Harbaugh  11:29  

Exactly. Like if you think of Wanderruff, like they're always going to have some aspect of that with their, with their materials, right? That isn't, and they're going to be able to do that on an even larger scale of, of taking discarded textiles. So if you build it in to what you do, I think that's, you know, the number one thing that small businesses can do. And that way it's not this like trade-off of this, this thing that we do on the side.

That's kind of a nice to have. And then Lori, the thing you mentioned that I loved about EasyPost starting to offer carbon neutral shipping, as you said, at no additional cost. Like that was really important from the beginning with, with Sendle was, small businesses, they are facing challenges of their viability that, you know, it is, like those we talked about where the you know, you're facing a challenge in every aspect. And it compounds right to the point where you're having a really hard time, you know, guaranteeing the income that you need to push that business forward. So we never wanted for it to be a choice for businesses where they're either, they can have a sustainable option, but it's going to cost more, or they can do another option, but cost less.

So we just built in carbon neutral shipping to all of our, all of our shipping and we're able to do it and still offer small businesses better rates. And so that shows to me that this change is possible at a wider scale than the industry, right? 

Lori Boyer  12:52  

Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up. I was recently talking to just an actual friend. Yes, I have a friend. Shout out to my friend. Who has started a business and she was a little bit concerned because, like you said, solopreneur. She was like starting to get a little bit bigger. She'd been doing Etsy and she was expanding, you know, all of that kind of stuff. And she had somebody approach asking about sustainability initiatives. You know, people really are wanting sustainability.

I was just reading a stat yesterday that 81 percent of people expect companies to be doing something for sustainability. But she was like, I don't even know where to start. Again, as you were saying, resource, short, you know. She does not have a director of sustainability like you, Veena. And so how, how can small businesses balance cost with, and this was the question she had for me, like how much money or what am I supposed to put in?

I think the number one question, don't feel bad. I say, don't feel bad. I'm talking to our audience here. I know we all love our, our, our planet and we don't want to destroy the planet, but also we love our business. We don't want to destroy our business. So what recommendations do you have for small businesses in balancing cost with sustainability?

Veena Harbaugh  14:09  

Totally. And I think that's one thing that's just a little bit fundamentally, I think we've, maybe it's sustainability as a field hasn't done a good job explaining or some or just, you know, businesses are out there trying to capture that premium market. So it's presented as this more like elite or more expensive option.

And sometimes, right, like, there are things that cost more and but oftentimes it isn't. You know, a lot of the sustainability solutions, especially that first tier of sustainability solutions are, they're waste saving. So that's, that's cost saving and carbon saving like those things that go and so even. 

Lori Boyer  14:48  

Can I ask just a second Veena, so backing up, what it what are the tier one kind of things you're talking about, waste saving, this, that, what does that mean? I'm not sure. 

Veena Harbaugh  14:57  

Yeah, I'm, I'm thinking of a company's sustainability journey. And there's things that you're going to do right at the beginning. And that, those things are often efficiency-style things where there is a cost-saving and a carbon-saving component. And then further along as you get into that journey, you might be making some investments, right?

Into new materials, working with a different manufacturer, things like that where you might be making some investments, but by that point, your business is building to the point where you're going to be able to capitalize on a customer segment that's excited about that. You're going to be having some other kind of, you're going to be lining up your growth because we, we talked about how, what you do as a business is going to be aligned to sustainability. So you can be able to capture revenue related to that. But in the very beginning, it's like, I will be looking for cost setting, saving solutions that also have a sustainability component.

So very simple ones are like right-sizing packaging, right? Like if you're, if you're putting, putting like, you're paying for, you're not paying for any empty air. You're also not emitting more because that truck is able to be packed more efficiently. And so there's, there's so many places where there is a cost-saving solution and a carbon solution that go together.

And so I think the more that we can see sustainability as something that can help our business, as a business advantage, and not this, you know, premium cost or, or trade-off, we're, we're going to be building in things that, that truly help our business grow and, and fund that long term viability of our business.

Lori Boyer  16:34  

Okay. I love that. So step one is look for things that help both you save money and are sustainable. Like we often don't think about it as being sustainable, but I have completely gotten like giant packages, so big, and there's like a little can inside. And I'm like while on Christmas that's exciting for kids when you got a giant present wrapped up, yeah, probably not as good for the environment. Or like you were saying it's good for you know, our small businesses.

So rightsized packaging is a great, simple thing you can do. Are there other ideas on this sort of tier that you can think of that they could do? 

Veena Harbaugh  17:11  

Yeah, I mean it depends what your business does, right? But any of that, just tapping into that thrift-type mindset, right? 

Lori Boyer  17:20  

So find your thrift friend and get them to come talk to you.

Veena Harbaugh  17:24  

You know, and, and just really taking that perspective of what do we do and how can we eliminate waste? So I think that's, that's the, so if that's within your manufacturing process, if that's things that you're doing to cut down on returns, because you're going to like take better videos of your products or things like that, you know, like, so that you're, you're communicating better with the, with the customer so there aren't surprises. 

Anything that is, is, is finding waste in your business, which is an intuitive thing for us, right? Like we see and then it hurts as an entrepreneur where you're like, Oh no, I have all of this returned product. And it took, it was so hard to even find those customers and connect with them.

And 30 percent of the product is coming back, no. You know, like, so, I'd say, you know, adopting that thrift mindset is, is a way that you can, you can eliminate some of that trade-off. And then, you know, shipping as, as a, a place to start. You know, depending on what you do, shipping can be up to 30 percent of your carbon footprint.

And so, yeah, working with a solution like Sendle, communicating to your customer that it's carbon neutral. Maybe that is, at this point, the only sustainable aspect of your product, but you know, it's a starting point in terms of, of telling your, your customer that you're, you're thinking about it and you're, you're making a choice to support that.

Lori Boyer  18:43  

Yeah. Okay. You said two things that I want to touch on. First, returns. Absolutely. Like you said, oh, it's like getting your child rejected. So it gets sent back. But I think I read a stat and you can correct me if I'm wrong again, you know, everything, that like 50 percent of returns end up in landfills.

And so I think that people are aware that returns can be a huge waste. So I love the idea though of kind of getting ahead of returns. So I thought that was a great idea. Everyone, try to reduce the number of returns you get with video, with, you know, really good product descriptions, with comparisons maybe.

Sizing recommendations if things are sizing big or small. But then also if you do get returns, whether you allow people to keep it, whether you donate. I know somebody who donates stuff that gets returned. And then the second piece I love love love that you said Veena, was talking about sharing with your customers.

That's an area I think small businesses forget a lot. They may be trying to do or are kind of even just a byproduct. They are doing some sustainable things. They are rightsize packaging. They are looking to do things with their returns. Or maybe they're working with their shipping where they are getting carbon neutral, but they don't share it with their customers.

And that kind of will then take away from the, the people just don't know. So what recommendations do you have for sharing with customers? 

Veena Harbaugh  20:09  

Yeah, this is. So I was talking to an entrepreneur just this morning, and she's doing so many things like of that promote sustainability in her business. And she's not because it's just her.

It's just normal, right? Like, it's just like, she's eliminating waste in her business. And her, her, her business is lunchbox for kids. And so she's like, I just take my parenting philosophy. And that's what my business philosophy is of just trying to do good and do the best I can. And so to her, it's not interesting that they have, you know, a partnership to take back the silicone to this local organization.

And, but no, people want to know, and they want to know the specifics of it, you know, and I think that is, as, you know, bizarre as some of the details can be, but just saying, you know, a hundred of the boxes that we're using, I found at a reuse facility and this is, you know, or just any of those type of things that share, you're a person behind your business.

You're thinking about it and these, and they can be a part of your journey with you. The other thing that came up talking to this entrepreneur is she has, you know, the practices she's doing today. And she has the vision of where she wants to get to. So she doesn't quite want to talk about where she is today because she sees this further out place where she wants to get, but people understand that.

And especially if you say that in the context of I'm a small business, this is what I can do today. This is where I would love to head, you know, like people will, will resonate with one, your honesty and two, that you have a vision of, of growing and changing your business too. 

Lori Boyer  21:47  

I love that for our audience, our community out there who are small businesses.

These are perfect opportunities on social media, I think. You know, get your camera, go out there. It can be your phone. We're not talking go hire some videographer. Take your phone. People are completely comfortable with you using a regular phone. Show, look, these are big boxes. These are small boxes. Or look, this is where I'm getting recyclable packaging or sustainable packaging.

Look, we're going to drop off these shirts that we're donating that were returned. All of those things and then ask, I think, ask your, your own customers, what else can we do? Do you have other ideas? I'm a small business but I am trying my best to make a difference in this world and they are going to love that.

They're not expecting you to, you know, invest 10 million dollars in the latest, you know, technology tool. They understand you're a small business. 

Veena Harbaugh  22:41  

Absolutely. And that relationship of being a small business to their life is they're in the same boat. They're, they're trying their best. They're making some choices that they feel good about.

They're making some that are, you know, are misaligned with their values in different aspects or, you know, and so communicating this, that same kind of sense of like, we're trying to improve and we can be gracious with where we're at. I think really, that connects with people in their, in their personal sustainability journeys too.

Cause there's, there's always, you know, some things that we're doing great and some, some gaps for us to be kind of shifting and working to change in our lives. 

Lori Boyer  23:18  

Yeah, absolutely. And like you said before, people absolutely will resonate with you as a person. You don't need to pretend that you're some giant organization with 10,000 employees.

You, you are. They relate to the fact that you're a person behind that business. That's your advantage as a small business, right? 

Veena Harbaugh  23:36  

It's your advantage. And then if we think too of like the power, we flip that in terms of the power of consumers within this, this big conversation, right. Is, you know, ecommerce it's, it's growing.

It's not going back where it's right. We're going to be adding like a hundred billion more packages in the next five years. So that, that trend is going, but then my power as a consumer is, is to support those small businesses and those small businesses that are innovating and trying their best. And so for me to know that I'm making some difference, even if that's, you know, a few shirts that were donated to this organization.

That is so important in terms of me understanding how I can play in this, this economy and be a part of this change. 

Lori Boyer  24:19  

Yeah, I love that. Okay, so let's say we're moving up a level. Maybe you've been doing some of these small things, we're going up. Maybe you're looking into sustainable packaging. We kind of touched on that briefly.

Can you share what sustainable packaging is? Maybe where people could access it? How much more would they expect it would cost? Just kind of give us some info on that. 

Veena Harbaugh  24:37  

Yeah. Again, this is a place where it doesn't necessarily need to cost more. And there are some materials, right? Like if you have, there are some that, that, that do cost more like, which is unfortunate, right?

Like it's unfortunate that it's cheaper to buy styrofoam if you're cold shipping something versus this amazing new company, that's a B Corp that's making these wool pouches that will, you know, there is. But there's a cost difference there, and that's such a bummer, right? 

Lori Boyer  25:05  

It's like when the Twinkie is cheaper than the, you know, the salad I should get. Yeah, I got it. 

Veena Harbaugh  25:12  

And that's just where, right? Like, we're fundamentally off in terms of that cost of that styrofoam is enduring right to like society. But the changes are there. But oftentimes for small businesses, sometimes the most sustainable packaging that you can be doing is recycled paper or like heavy duty recycled paper.

So just be, especially because the end of life is so strong. Like we have, there's, there's oftentimes good systems for recycling that in the end consumer's life. So it doesn't necessarily need to be something that sticks out to you as this fancy new material. Things like heavy duty, recycled paper, cardboard. But then you really want to think about, okay, one, that recycled materials went into that.

And then to really communicate to your customer to recycle. Like talk, think about the end use. And if it is really a part of your brand, you could think about some more kind of fancier style things. You could think about a reusable pouch, which even if they don't send it back to you, the fact that they have a sustainable mailer to send on to someone else.

We at Sendle we, we do 2 sustainable package offerings just to help our customers with this transition to more sustainable material. So we offer fully compostable mailers, which are, which break down all the way for home composting, which is so cool. Because it's like, if you don't have access to municipal recycling, you have a  place where some dirt you could stick that in probably. And then, we also offer these mailers that are called polastics. They're really, really cool because they're made out of ocean-bound plastic pollution. 

It's still an amazing sustainability solution because that plastic that it's made from was going to be pollution in the ocean. And there and it's the type of plastic that's hard to recycle. So it's like chip bags, things like that, that needed to go through this specialized recycling process. So things like that, where there's a, a solution either ahead of, of it, where, where, where something interesting happened to, to keep that resource cycling, like the polastic mailers, or where there's a good end of life, like the compostable mailers, that's, that's where you want to tune into around the sustainability.

Lori Boyer  27:32  

Do they need to look at a specific place? Can, you know, I mean, how do they find these kind of materials? Where should they get that packaging? 

Veena Harbaugh  27:40  

Yeah, we offer those two. And then, I wish that there was like a, a real one-stop shop. But otherwise, I think that these are more normal materials in your life than you're thinking about.

And I think even being open to packages that are coming to you. Reusing those boxes and finding some other ways to incorporate your branding. So, we've seen some really cool, interesting things of, yeah, either companies taking one route where they do really customized packaging. And they're printing, you know, all of their things right on the box so that they don't have to include additional mailers, or you can take the other route where you're reusing packaging, but then you're incorporating your own branding through stamps or other things that helps show that, you know, that. But people will be forgiving around it being a box that isn't like perfectly crisp, you know, as long as it shows that it still has that love and attention of a small business. 

Lori Boyer  28:45  

Yes. I, so it's interesting, I liked how you said to educate your customers about, hey, you could recycle this, or this is recyclable material, so make sure that you're disposing of it the right way.

That was something I hadn't thought about, but is a great way to kind of, again, show customers that you care and that you are working on this sustainability. Yeah. You know, can you just a sticker on there or something that says recyclable, or just give instructions like, don't forget to recycle this?

Veena Harbaugh  29:13  

Yeah, I see that on things. And then you even one step further is you can encourage reuse. So something like with our mailers is it has two sticky tabs, right? So there's, it's encouraging people to, you know, they receive it one time, but then it shows, yeah, cut here and then you reuse it. I've seen some really cool things of some companies, they send you it in a bag and then they're encouraging you to fill that bag and including a shipping label for you to donate your clothes or things like that. So you could even think about the end of life of, you know, that material, material getting recycled, but you could even think about how could I keep this material cycling at a, at a higher use? 

Lori Boyer  29:54  

Oh, that's really smart. I love that idea. So community as well. I'd love to hear, you know, a lot of these ideas are just like you said, like, oh, just being smart about what we're doing with our waste and with the end product. So that's really cool. You mentioned briefly some of the packaging may be, you know, certified or what not. That's another area that I get a lot of questions on.

Regulations, certifications. I would just love to hear your guesses. This is like Veena looking into the forecast of Magic Ball. But are businesses, do you think that we're going to see stronger regulations coming down towards businesses? What I, what I'm hearing from people are, do I need to like start doing stuff now so that I'm going to be meeting regulations in the future? Or do you think that I've got a while? Or how can I track what I'm doing? That kind of stuff. 

Veena Harbaugh  30:50  

Yeah, there's definitely regulatory changes happening, and globally, but then also within the U.S. Most of those regulatory changes are focused on large businesses, which makes sense in terms of the design of the regulations. Where they're had, they have, like, really substantial reporting requirements and things that don't just don't quite fit for businesses.

So while for me, for small businesses, the emphasis is less on meeting the regulatory requirements because those yeah, I think makes sense that they're focused on public companies or are companies doing a certain revenue threshold. But for small businesses, it's more on this opportunity side. Right?

And so, some certifications that I think are helping small businesses navigate the opportunity side. I'm really passionate about the B Corp movement. I, before joining Sendle, worked at B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corporations. And during my time there, I saw one, the number of B Corps double from like 2, 500 to 5, 000.

And then I also saw full range of, you know, these solopreneurs that we're talking about to relatively substantial, large companies certifying. And, and all those companies have found some form of value from it. And so I think for small businesses, the value is really finding some framework that can help you with, with making these decisions and choices.

And especially as your business is maturing. So, some of the things that you're asked on the B Corp assessment, if you're a solopreneur aren't going to be relevant. They're about your employee policies, things like that, but it'll give you this kind of direction as your business grows. And then it'll also plug you into this amazing community of businesses that are game to collaborate.

A lot of our strongest partnerships are with other B Corps, cause we're all working on, you know, the same, same thing. 

Lori Boyer  32:44 

I would love to have a whole episode where we talked about B Corps. But another time, Veena, another time. 

Veena Harbaugh  32:50  

I'll come back for that. And I'll bring some friends. 

Lori Boyer  32:52  

So, so my answer for our friends here, if you are a solopreneur and you are thinking like, I don't even know if I want to get that big.

I love what I'm doing right now. This and that. You're probably pretty safe from regulations. If you're like, I am going to be the next, like, giant corporation, start building things in I think now knowing that eventually you got this you're going to be there. Does that, is that similar if you're shipping internationally? Does that come into play at all? 

Veena Harbaugh  33:21  

Yeah. And there are different, specifically even on the sustainability pieces. There are, so, Europe is out ahead in some of these things and has some, some more specific, especially around making sustainability claims. There's, there's been some movement there.

And so I think the, the things that we've already talked about around being like really specific to what your actual what your, your, your practices are, if you're doing those kinds of things of, just really clearly communicating what, what value and what, what materials are going into your product, things like that, then you, those regulations are designed to catch people who are oftentimes companies that are like intentionally engaging in this game of trying to present as more sustainable than they are.

So, I think small businesses, if you're doing the right thing, you're trying to grow your business, you're communicating honestly about what you're up to. You'll be, you'll be fine. 

Lori Boyer  34:14  

Perfect. So small businesses for you. The sustainability movement is a lot more about You know saving the planet, helping the planet, as well as attracting customers and making sure that you're doing your part and sharing it. That's one thing again, you and I talked about this, but please, please, please share the sustainability initiatives you're taking. I know with this cool new thing that EasyPost is doing and of course with I'm sure what Sendle's doing, you know, you can go in and you can download a badge to show that you've got carbon neutral shipping. You can even you because we track all your data in terms of how much shipments gone out, you can put that data on your website. Is that similar for you? 

Veena Harbaugh  34:56  

Yeah, exactly. We have labels for our customers to use. And, and I just see that as a big part of the solution, right? Is a lot of folks, they're starting to tune into like product level sustainability. You know, is it organic? Is it fair trade? Things like that. But the shipping component, people aren't necessarily thinking about, you know. They might view the cardboard kind of piling up and know that there's maybe something going on there.

But the carbon side is a little bit more of a mystery to people. And so, communicate like, one, this is something that we've addressed as a business just by using these services. I think it is a huge advantage for customer for small businesses, even if they don't necessarily view themselves as a sustainable business.

Tell your customers that you're doing it because some do care and some. 

Lori Boyer  35:44  


Veena Harbaugh  35:45 

Yeah. Want want to know those specifics about what you're up to. 

Lori Boyer  35:49  

Yeah, 64 percent of customers say that they would pay more to go with a company that's doing something sustainable. So just please make sure you're sharing it.

Look at partners like Sendle, like EasyPost, like any of your other, you know, vendors you may be working with. Find out what they're doing in terms of sustainability, because these slightly bigger companies may be having offerings like these that don't cost you any money, but you can share like, Oh, I'm using this sustainable company.

Veena Harbaugh  36:16  

Exactly. I think that is. It's, it's huge just to look at what you're currently doing, communicate about it, and then look at that just next, you know, if I were to do it, make a few tweaks to my business, what, what, what could those be? And to share about that, you know, as you make those changes, yeah, people want to know.

Lori Boyer  36:33 

Perfect. Veena, you have been so great today. We're going to close up, but I want you to tell us before we go, what is one, maybe two things that people, they're done listening today. What should they go do as a small business? What is their next step in terms of kind of taking their sustainability game just to the next level of wherever they are? What's your suggestions? 

Veena Harbaugh  36:54  

Yeah. Well, first, I mean, I, and I, I didn't mention that much before that I just love small businesses. At heart I'm an entrepreneur. That's, that's how I view of like, I want to be a part of this change in terms of building the types of businesses that, you know, meet customers like needs.

And also I really understand the struggle it is of being, you're doing everything, you know, your, your customer service, your manufacturing, your, and so first I'll just communicate a little bit of grace towards if you're not as far along, or this hasn't been as much of a priority as, as you'd like, that's okay.

And like we've talked about. Look at what you're already doing. See if there's anything that you didn't view as sustainable, but, but is. And then, you know, definitely at Sendle, we love working with small businesses. That's, that's our heart. And, you know, and what we really view our purpose as leveling the playing field for small business.

So that's through rates. That's through service. And an ease of using our tools. And so we would love, yeah. Check out Sendle if you're not familiar would be the next action. And then my last one, which is a kind of a bigger, bigger ask is to look at your business. What do you do? And is there anything within the core of your business model that could be helping address some environmental or social issues?

So, that might be through the materials, the customers you serve. Because if you really look at the core of what you do and bring some aspect to sustainability, then as you grow as a business, it isn't going to be this trade-off around being green or, or your business. Make it really embedded into what you do.

And, and this will be a path. And it's, as you mentioned, the stats Lori, it's a growing path. More and more customers are, are expecting this. Some of them are willing to pay more. And it really is just, you know, the future of, of you connecting with your customers and growing your business. So if you can build that in, then yeah, you're, you're, you're on a good path for, for the future of what you're doing.

Lori Boyer  38:53  

That's awesome. Thank you, Veena. Where, if our, if our community wants to reach out to you, are you on LinkedIn? How can they follow you? 

Veena Harbaugh  39:00  

Yeah, I am and then also Sendle is, is active on all those platforms. So, definitely, definitely check them out,, Instagram, we're @sendle, and then, yeah, LinkedIn, it's @sendle, and, and I'm there too, if you, if you have any kind of specific questions that that you'd love to connect on.

Lori Boyer  39:18  

That's awesome. So everybody reach out I'll include that that contact info in our media, in our notes in the bottom. And just thank you so much for being here. Small businesses, you guys got this. Take it one step at a time. I'd say one step every time because when you try to do twenty seven, you'll end up doing zero. So, pick one thing, get out there, and we can all be a little better.

But, thank you so much, and thank you for joining us everybody. And we will see you next time on Unboxing Logistics. 

Veena Harbaugh  39:50 

Thank you so much, Lori.