Sustainability and recommerce have been pillars of our marketplace from the start. Ever since our founder, Pierre Omidyar, launched eBay with his sale of a broken laser pointer to someone looking to give it new life, our marketplace has connected buyers and sellers around the world through items that still hold meaning and value. On Earth Day 2021, we celebrate our community’s sustainable achievements as that legacy of conscious commerce continues and flourishes on our marketplace today.
Indeed, our recent Recommerce Report found that almost three-quarters of our surveyed sellers began selling pre-owned goods last year, and that increasingly, more people are turning to buying and selling secondhand goods online to support a healthier planet and sustainability efforts overall. Thanks to our sellers, 720,000 metric tons of carbon emissions — the equivalent of more than 86,700 homes’ energy use for a year — have been conserved through people selling their pre-owned electronics and apparel on eBay.
“I am continuously inspired by all the inventive and innovative ways our sellers support sustainable ecommerce,” said Renee Morin, Chief Sustainability Officer at eBay. “Not only do their items provide a rich breadth of inventory, but their choices create jobs, save items from the landfill and help move us further down a path toward a healthier planet for us all.”
For Earth Day 2021, to celebrate our community’s achievements on our marketplace, we are spotlighting three of our sustainably minded sellers by sharing their stories here.
Giving Appliances a Second Life
Canadian seller Eric Tripp recognized both the economic and the environmental value of tapping into a trove of potential inventory of parts and accessories sourced from pre-owned appliances. During his night shifts as an Ottawa bus driver, he noticed that people were often leaving older appliances in working condition on the curb to send to the landfill. He saw an opportunity, and he decided to salvage the perfectly good parts of these appliances and sell them online for people to repair their own broken items. “In my eBay store, you’ll find the most obscure things — washing machine motors, computer motherboards, car windshield motors. You will find the things that you don’t necessarily want, but the things that you NEED, to repair what you have,” said Eric.
In January 2015 Eric started selling parts in Eric’s Corner Store on eBay to reach a national audience, and after a few months of hard work, in May 2015 he was able to leave his full time job and support his family with the income from his eBay shop. “What’s great about this business is that not only am I keeping things out of the landfill by recycling them, but the parts that I have extend the life of another person’s appliance, and they save money,” he said.
Creating Buzz on Plastic Pollution
In addition to the resources saved by reselling gently used items, other sellers are keeping items out of the waste stream by creating new and innovative products that are also environmentally friendly. Carol Rees from Mansfield, England, began her eBay business after looking for ways to reduce single-use plastics. After perfecting the process of making beautiful beeswax wraps as a more sustainable replacement for cling wrap, her eBay store Bee Happy Eco Products was born. Soon, she pursued her business full-time and left her position at a local college. She expanded her inventory to include cotton flannel wipes as an alternative to wet wipes, as well as reusable flannel handkerchiefs. Carol makes everything by hand at home, sources beeswax locally and even includes leaflets with helpful sustainability hints and tips with her purchases.
“It’s more than just selling a product; it’s about promoting a journey of reducing reliance on single-use plastics,” said Carol. “In the last 10 years we’re consuming and using more plastics than in the last 100 years. The damage that’s being done is horrendous, and if we don’t begin to reduce our reliance upon plastics then we’re doing more and more harm. Every sale reduces plastic being discarded.”
Building Community with Refurbished Electronics
Some of our sellers are nonprofit organizations that repurpose used items to create hope for the people they serve. One of our eBay for Charity sellers, Long Beach, California-headquartered human-I-T, has made it their mission to promote digital inclusion and online access to those in need while also diverting waste from landfills. Refurbishing unwanted computers and other pieces of technology, human-I-T then distributes them to individuals and other nonprofits, for free or at significantly reduced prices, along with free digital training and low-cost internet access.
Since starting out in 2012 with a modest electronics repair shop, human-I-T has grown exponentially, repurposing over 140,000 pieces of technology and preventing more than 6.7 million pounds of e-waste from heading to landfills. The impact of these refurbished devices throughout the communities that human-I-T serves has been especially pronounced during the COVID-19 global pandemic. “In the past year we’ve been able to provide more than 51,000 laptops to schools and families across the country, empowering students to keep up with their studies virtually and people to stay connected while remaining at home,” said human-I-T’s Director of Impact and Sustainability Allie Bussjaeger. “It’s a win-win — transforming e-waste into opportunity helps both people and our planet to thrive.”
For more information on our sustainable commitments and impact work, please visit our eBay Impact page.