eBay to Implement Employees’ Big Green Ideas

By: Lorin May

On the eBay Green Team, we often talk about how small actions can add up to a big difference, and our employees are a really great example of what we mean by that. Almost three years ago, a few passionate employees banded together because they wanted to make eBay a greener company. And so, they set out to do just that, eliminating one Styrofoam cup at a time.

Today, their efforts have inspired much larger projects – everything from this website to our new Bloom energy fuel cell installation and waste reduction program in San Jose.

To encourage even more employees to share their ideas, we launched eBay Inc.’s first ever Big Green Idea contest at the end of last year. The Big Green Idea contest was a company-wide call for suggestions (large or small) to make eBay a greener place to work at. In just six short weeks, we received 611 submissions from employees in 32 offices around the world!

Suggestions ranged from rooftop gardens and waterless urinals to commuter carpooling programs and high tech energy management systems. We even had one employee volunteer to help us start a bee-keeping program in Salt Lake City! Even the most off-the-wall suggestions were innovative and thoughtful.

After careful deliberation, eBay’s CEO John Donahoe and members of our Sustainability Steering Committee helped identify the ten leading ideas, using criteria like environmental impact and feasibility. eBay’s employees then had an opportunity to weigh in with their favorites. Today we’re excited to start implementing the five winning ideas, which we hope will make a meaningful impact on our environmental footprint – everywhere from how much trash we produce to how much energy we consume.

To reduce waste, for example, we’re working on replacing paper towel dispensers with high efficiency hand dryers and partnering with our community to roll out a greener packaging program. To minimize energy consumption, we’re partnering with eBay’s IT department to expand our videoconferencing capabilities and explore software solutions for powering employee computers down at night. We’ll also be taking another look at our landscaping practices, planting more native greenery and installing new weather tracking systems.

Hopefully these are just the first of many big, green ideas that will help eBay reduce our impact on the planet. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress.