How Etsy Paves the Way for Carbon Neutral Shipping

By Alyssa Bueno

Despite our best efforts, every product we buy has a carbon footprint. That footprint grows if we opt to ship purchases to our door. And the biggest carbon sin occurs when we click that oh so convenient 2-day prime delivery. Although Amazon offers us free shipping, the environment bears the true cost.

The Cost of Convenience

Expedited shipping means that more cars, trucks, and planes are used to deliver your package as fast as possible. More waste is created in the cumbersome plastic packaging and cardboard boxes used to ship your goods.

In response to concerns about waste, Amazon launched its ‘Frustration-Free Packaging’ program and in 2017 eliminated 16% of its waste, avoiding the use of 305 million shipping boxes. Despite their addition of Amazon Prime fleets to 50 aircraft last year, the retail giant also announced its pledge to half its emissions by 50% in 2030. However, considering that the Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be achieved in 2030, is this an ambitious enough goal for the world’s largest online e-commerce store?

Striving Toward Sustainable Development

Retail companies across the board are now making greater strides toward reducing their environmental impact. Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade and vintage items, announced that it will offset all the CO2 generated from shipping purchases. Chelsea Mozen, sustainability lead at Etsy states:

“The free shipping we’re used to actually isn’t free. When people think of the environmental impact from e-commerce, they immediately jump to packaging—but emissions from shipping has a big environmental cost”.

Last year, shipping accounted for 98%, or 135,000 tons, of Etsy’s total carbon footprint. While this may seem like a large number, the price to offset is very small, especially when it is broken down by individual purchase. Going carbon neutral is really a miniscule economic cost, and it provides reparations for the impact of our consumer culture. At the very least, we can offset the damage we have done.

Etsy, among other companies’ decisions to go carbon neutral paves the way for a common practice in companies to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their business. Other companies are taking a slightly different route toward carbon neutrality. Reformation, a sustainable fashion company, has been carbon neutral since 2015 but is revitalizing its campaign by offering customers a $100 Reformation gift card to switch over their energy source to Arcadia Power, a renewable energy provider. Reformation also sells carbon offset packages directly on its website, in an industry-wide push to bring more awareness to the importance of carbon neutrality especially in the fashion business, where clothing inherently requires high resource inputs and can be a major source of pollution.

Going carbon neutral is not solely a philanthropic effort. Companies both big and small see the opportunity for capitalizing on carbon neutrality. As Reed Shapiro, Director of Business Development of Carbon Credit Capital states, “companies can achieve a lower cost of capital, better operational performance, and positive trends in stock price growth when sound environmental, governance, and social metrics are employed”.

How You Can Shop Sustainably

In addition to choosing companies that strive for sustainability within their supply chain and their practices, you can also make consumer choices to lower your carbon footprint.

  1. 1. Resist the urge to buy too much stuff! Be very deliberate with your purchases and try to stick to the necessities because unwanted items eventually become waste.
  2. 2. Don’t click the fastest shipping speed, even if it’s free. Expedited shipping is less environmentally friendly.
  3. 3. Try ordering multiple items at once, instead of purchasing them one at a time.
  4. 4. If stores are accessible to you via walking, biking, or public transport – opt to buy in-store as opposed to online.
  5. 5. Offset your impact by purchasing carbon credits.

At Carbon Credit Capital, we can offset every part of your lifestyle – from food to fashion to travel. By supporting environmental projects that engage in reforestation and renewable energy, you can remove the carbon emissions associated with your shipped purchases.