Want to do your part to save the environment? Buy a leather handbag.
That is the message eBay is pushing with a new green shopping site and ad campaign.
On the site, green.ebay.com, and in the ads, eBay makes the case that buying something used is as environmentally correct as conservation and recycling.
“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. “What we’re saying is you don’t have to make this new product at all.”
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,” said Casey Harrell, who analyzes the information technology sector at Greenpeace.
Call it greenwashing or not, but Greenpeace has found in its research that reusing products has environmental benefits, he said.
“Does this pass the laugh test? I think it can,” he said.
EBay, which is recovering from several unprofitable quarters and facing dwindling market share, has been recasting the site to make it more attractive to new kinds of shoppers — and make it feel less like shopping an Excel spreadsheet. It unveiled a new apparel hub for fashion lovers last month, and now it is going after conservation-minded shoppers.
Its green hub, at green.ebay.com, collects items for sale on the site that eBay qualifies as green. They could be preowned or sustainable, such as a US$34 cobalt blue vase made of recycled glass from a seller in Virginia or resource-saving, like a US$14.95 stainless steel water bottle from a seller in California.
The green site displays photo shoots by eBay showing the products in a room — a shot of a kitchen, for instance, filled with products for sale.
The ads will appear in next month’s editions of all 15 Hearst magazines, including Good Housekeeping and Popular Mechanics.
“Choosing a previously owned espresso machine saves 90 percent of the CO² needed to produce a new one. So you get the jolt you need without compromising mankind,” one ad says.
EBay hired Cooler, a company that calculates carbon footprints, to determine how much carbon shoppers save by buying something used instead of new. They say that the leather handbag, for example, saves as much energy as a flight from London to Paris.
Cooler calculated the total cost of creating a new item, including materials and manufacturing, and factored in the cost of packaging and shipping eBay items via fuel-guzzling planes or cars, Skoczlas Cole said.
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