To carry forth a new strategy for both business and consumer users, eBay has added a “Green Team.”
The eBay Green Team started in 2007 as 40 eBay employees. Now the number has swelled beyond 1,000 employees in 18 countries and eBay is taking the team public as of March 4, encouraging eBay sellers and buyers to embrace sustainable and ecological choices in product selection, shipping, packaging and more.
Sellers on eBay have an incentive to expand their business into green operations, said Amy Skoczlas-Cole, manager of citizenship communications for eBay, San Jose, Calif.
Through a partnership with the US Postal Service, businesses can obtain free Cradle-To-Cradle shipping materials, Skoczlas-Cole said.
“A seller outreach team is in constant contact with the millions of small businesses that use eBay. We point them to easy to use information to improve environmental performance in areas like packaging and shipping,” Skoczlas-Cole said.
By encouraging sellers and buyers to specify ground shipping, eBay believes it is instilling a more environmentally friendly ethos, she said.
For consumers, eBay’s Green Team marketing message centers around the fact that many items sold on eBay are used or discontinued items, and the fact that purchasing such items reduces the need for new manufacturing.
More than $60 billion in goods were sold on eBay in 2008, and every second, $2,000 worth of products change hands on the site, she said. Many of these are used, refurbished, organic or sustainable, she added.
For example, according to the site, used laptops bought on eBay in 2007 reduced about 69,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is according to a study from for-profit social venture firm Cooler and commissioned by eBay, which showed that buying a used laptop negates half the greenhouse gases associated with making a new one.
“We know from consumer research that consumers have a desire to address the environment and feel part of a solution, but they have a lot of confusion as to whether what they are doing is effective,”Skoczlas-Cole said.
“As eBay educates consumers about green packaging and shipping, this will create demand for sustainably oriented products. It will help differentiate these types of products. We’re an aggregator of consumers, and we have a passionate group of users,” Skoczlas-Cole said.
There are 86 million active eBay users.