Etsy's plan for carbon-neutral online shopping

Signal of change / Etsy's plan for carbon-neutral online shopping

By Zarir DeVitre / 06 Mar 2019

On February 26, 2019 Etsy's CEO Josh Silverman announced the company's plan to become the first major online shopping destination to offset 100% of carbon emissions from shipping. To celebrate the occasion the company will also offset shipping emissions for the entire US commerce sector for a day which is the equivalent of protecting 100 square miles of US forests for a year.


In other words, for any carbon emissions as a result of shipping items, Etsy will invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions by the same amount. The company has partnered with 3Degrees to fund verified emissions redution projects to protect forests, sponsor wind and solar energy farms, and other environmental projects.


Etsy estimates that it will cost less than a "penny per package" - less than $1 million per year for a company that made over $200 million in the final quarter of 2018. Some companies including airlines do offer the customer the option to offset carbon emissions for a small fee as part of the transaction cost. However, with Etsy's new plan and commitment, no cost will be passed on to either buyers or sellers on the platform. This is unique because unlike many other online retailers, 98 percent of its total shipping emissions result from items shipped directly between buyers and sellers.


Since transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, an ecommerce company offsetting its emissions would make a huge difference. In comparison, Amazon, the largest online retailer has plans to make 50 percent of all shipments carbon neutral by 2030. 

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What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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