Etsy Is Going Carbon Neutral & Wants The Rest Of E-Commerce To Follow Suit

mbg Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."

Image by Santi Nunez / Stocksy

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Etsy wants to set an example for the e-commerce industry by proving how easy and economical it is to offset carbon emissions from shipping.

Starting immediately, the company will work with carbon offset provider 3Degrees to fund projects like protecting forests, generating wind power, and developing lower-emission auto parts. By supporting initiatives that take carbon out of the environment, the company can balance out the carbon it's pumping into the atmosphere with every package placed in the mail. (Etsy estimates that 98 percent of its carbon footprint, about 135,459 metric tons of carbon a year, currently come from shipping.) Though offsetting isn't a perfect solution—ideally, companies would reduce their carbon footprints from the beginning—it's better than doing nothing.

"Even though we don't directly control that shipping, we feel responsible for it because we've enabled it," Chelsea Mozen, sustainability lead at Etsy tells Bloomberg. "We want consumers to know what responsible e-commerce can look like."

Why February 28, 2019, was a historic day for online shopping.

Etsy is transparent about the fact that offsetting its shipping won't cost much: less than 1 cent a package, and under $1 million a year when all is said and done. By sharing these numbers, the e-commerce giant hopes to encourage other major players in the space to follow its lead and go carbon neutral.

To really drive this message home, Etsy has pledged to offset every online order placed in the U.S. on February 28, 2019. Yep, all the estimated 55,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pumped into the environment will be accounted for in carbon offsets—the equivalent of taking 11,956 cars off the road for a year.

"If Etsy, on its own, can afford to buy the industry a day of clean air, then why can't we all do it?" Josh Silverman, Etsy CEO, asks Fortune.

There are other companies making progress in the shipping department, such as Amazon, which recently pledged to go 50 percent carbon neutral by 2030. Here's hoping this sweeping commitment encourages them to move up their timelines and take some of the guilt out of online shopping.

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