Sometimes going shopping is the greenest thing you can do, especially when you’re shopping for used goods. At least that's the premise behind eBay Green, which was the focus of a recent story from the New York Times. In its ads and on its site, eBay makes the case that buying something used is as environmentally sound as conservation and recycling, according to the NY Times.
“Most people think you have to make a product in a certain way with a certain set of ingredients for it to be green,” said Amy Skoczlas Cole, director of eBay’s green team, told the Times. “What we’re saying is you don’t have to make this new product at all.”
On the green site, the company offers items for sale that pass one of two sustainability tests: Is it used or is it a sustainable product.
Is eBay simply “greenwashing” — making their businesses model seem environmentally friendly when it’s actually not — or are they truly providing a way for you to live greener? According to Greenpeace, it's feasible.
“It is nothing new for companies to pick something they already do — selling used products, in eBay’s case — and “rewrap it in nice green marketing,” Casey Harrell, who analyzes the information technology sector at Greenpeace, told the Times.
eBay has taken an extra step by hiring Cooler, a company that calculates carbon footprints, to determine how much carbon dioxide shoppers are saving by buying used instead of new. eBay will take this data and fuse it with a set of ads that will run in the April issues of 15 Hearst magazines.
For example, one of their ads reads, “Choosing a previously owned espresso machine saves 90% of the CO2 needed to produce a new one. So you get the jolt you need without compromising mankind.”
Greenwashing or not, it's a viable business model.