We live in a ‘buy-now’ world, where everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary can arrive on your doorstep practically overnight. In this culture of convenience with endless selection, few of us stop to think about the environmental impact of shipping goods around the globe. Fast, free shipping ultimately comes at a cost to our planet.
As a global marketplace, Etsy has always been conscious of our ecological impact. In 2016, we committed to powering our operations with 100% renewable electricity by 2020. Our trail-blazing Power Purchase Agreement to enable the development of a new solar farm, migration to the Google Cloud Platform, and installation of solar panels at our offices place us firmly on track to meet that goal. We also achieved our goal of running zero waste operations globally in 2018, two years ahead of schedule.
While we’re pleased with the progress within our operations, I believe we must hold ourselves to an even higher standard. 98 percent of Etsy’s total emissions stem from items shipped from our sellers to our buyers. Although we do not actively manage this shipping process, we are in the position to do something about the environmental impact. That’s why, starting today, Etsy is becoming the first global ecommerce company to offset 100% of carbon emissions generated by shipping.
Now, each time someone buys an item on Etsy, we will automatically purchase verified emissions reductions, more commonly known as “offsets”, through our partner 3Degrees. These purchases support environmental projects, including protecting forests that improve air quality and absorb carbon, sponsoring wind and solar farms that generate clean energy and replace fossil fuels, and developing greener methods for producing auto parts. Additional details on the projects we are supporting are included below.
This initiative comes at no additional cost to buyers or sellers. It simply comes with the satisfaction of knowing that shopping on Etsy means making a positive impact on the planet.
To jumpstart our efforts and celebrate this milestone, tomorrow (February 28), we will also offset shipping emissions for the entire US ecommerce sector for the day. In the US alone, every day approximately 55,000 metric tons of CO2e are emitted into the atmosphere by delivering packages from online orders. Offsetting this impact for one day is the equivalent of protecting 100 square miles of US forests for one year.
The Bigger Picture
This is a major milestone for our ongoing efforts to reduce Etsy’s impact on our planet. But it is just that: a milestone, not the finish line. With the climate changing even faster than scientific predictions, business leaders have a responsibility to act urgently and aggressively. Offsets are an immediate step Etsy is taking to balance our impact as we work towards longer-term emissions reduction solutions.
With shipping projected to play an increasing role in global emissions, there is a pressing need for both the public and private sectors to play a role in addressing this societal issue. We intend to seek out new opportunities to collaborate with industry leaders, shippers, and policymakers to develop long-term reduction solutions. Working together, perhaps the day when all packages are delivered on emission-free planes and trucks will be closer than we all think.
While we are proud to be the first major online shopping destination to offset 100% of carbon emissions from shipping, we certainly hope we are not the last. Considering these offsets will cost less than one penny per package for Etsy, we don’t believe that cost should be a prohibitive factor for others to follow in our footsteps. For the benefit of future generations, how can we all afford not to take this action?
At Etsy, we have long held the conviction that we can be both a great business and a great corporate citizen. In fact, we believe we cannot be one without the other. Our efforts on the sustainability front, combined with our economic and social impact work, all help us build long-term resilience so that we can continue to deliver value to all of our stakeholders.
Learn more about all of our economic, social, and ecological impact efforts at etsy.com/impact.
Additional information on the projects we are supporting:
Our investments are supporting urgently-needed emissions-reductions projects. All of our projects are independently validated and verified under leading, internationally-recognized offset standards and have been sourced by our partner, 3Degrees.
- UPM Blandin Native American Hardwoods Conservation Project: In 2019, we are supporting the conservation of more than 10 million trees, which are part of a responsibly managed 187,876 acre forest in Minnesota. This sustainable harvesting project not only absorbs carbon dioxide from the air, but it also helps protect biodiversity and wildlife, improves local air quality, creates a space for recreation in the local community, and increases the supply of sustainably-sourced forestry products.
- Giriraj Wind Power Project: We are investing in the development and maintenance of wind energy in India. This increased wind capacity will help displace grid reliance on coal, diesel, furnace oil, and gas combustion in an area where electricity demand continues to increase.
- The Solar Grouped Project by ACME: We are investing in 11 solar developments across India. Electricity delivered by the projects would have otherwise been generated by the operation of grid-connected coal power plants and by the addition of new fossil fuel generation. These projects create local jobs and catalyze clean infrastructure development. Revenue from the verified emissions reductions was necessary to build, as well as operate and maintain, the project.
- Meridian Magnesium SF6 Reduction in the Automotive Sector: We are supporting new technologies that reduce a potent greenhouse gas — SF6, which is 22,800 times stronger than CO2 — in the manufacturing of automotive parts. Investment in this project finances the first commercial use of this process.