Soon after my partner and I started our rug-tufting supplies business in 2018, I realized the huge amount of waste we were producing. And it bothered me—a ton. 


All the daily tasks, like using peel-and-stick labels, packing and unpacking shipments and buying rolls and rolls of shipping tape, added up to what felt like an endless stream of garbage. Worse, most of it was destined for landfills and wasn’t biodegradable. It’s one thing to produce and manage waste as an individual, but scale that up to the level of a business, and it quickly becomes this monster. 

We felt obligated to do something about it. Being mindful of our environmental impact is something that’s deeply important to us personally—so we hold that commitment to sustainability at our business as well. 

A collective effort                                


In 2021, some Tuft the World employees formed a sustainability committee to tackle our challenges head-on and identify ways we could reduce our impact. Our 19 employees care about sustainability as well, so it only makes sense to engage them around it and tap into their enthusiasm and collective wisdom.


Two years on, the committee has made significant strides—tackling everything from the packaging we use to the plastics we accept to the food and beverage waste in our breakroom. 

Thanks to this commitment, we’ve seen a huge reduction in cardboard waste. During the early years of our operations, we’d go through pallets and pallets of recycled craft paper used as packing materials and countless cardboard boxes. At a minimum, we were filling a two-yard dumpster with cardboard every week.


One night, I came across a TikTok video featuring a machine that perforates cardboard in a way that makes it soft and bendable so it can be used as packing material. I bought one the next day. Thanks to what we call the “Machine That Eats Cardboard,” Tuft the World now reuses its own cardboard waste to protect our products in shipping and no longer purchases paper packing. To date, we’ve used approximately 50,000 pounds of shredded cardboard. 

We also now work with a local specialty recycling firm to recycle items like the plastic-coated paper that’s on the back of our shipping labels. Since late 2021, we’ve recycled 6,800-plus gallons of hard-to-recycle plastic. 

In our break room, we provide wooden flatware and plates and compostable cups. We’ve also teamed up with a local coffee shop that provides pour-over compostable coffee packets. Last year, our composting service collected 780 gallons of our food and beverage waste.


Branching out, driving change


While reducing waste has been a huge initiative for us, the sustainability committee also wanted to tackle our carbon footprint. As an ecommerce company, we recognize that every shipment—whether incoming or outgoing—takes a toll in the form of carbon dioxide emissions.

To help offset this, we now sponsor the planting of one tree for every order placed in our online store through Ecologi, a company combating climate change through reforestation projects around the world. Since August 2021, our company has planted over 29,000 trees. 

We also use the Planet app, which partners with other organizations to offset a portion of our shipments, helping make our orders carbon-neutral. Since June of last year, that program has resulted in 14 tons of shipping emissions removal. 

As a business owner, I feel responsible for looking at our impact from all angles and seeking new ways to reduce it. We recently joined the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Moreover, we try to choose like-minded vendors who are also working to reduce their footprint. 

As an added benefit, we also see that our customers appreciate doing business with us even more because of our sustainability efforts—and they want to contribute as well. In fact, over the past two years, our customers have “rounded up” their purchase amounts 6,600 times through our “Shopping Gives” program—allowing us to donate over $16,000 to nonprofits nationwide. 

In the end, business sustainability is not something you can achieve alone. It takes a community—your employees, your customers, your suppliers—all working together toward the same goal. And that is a beautiful thing.

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