Carbon-Offset Shipping On Etsy

I don’t write a lot about Etsy here at AVC. It is a public company and I am the Chairman so I have to be careful.

But today Etsy is announcing something that makes me so proud. I have to tell you about it. Etsy is the first major online shopping destination to offset 100% of carbon emissions from shipping.

Here is Etsy CEO Josh Silverman’s blog post on this news.

Etsy has been committed to clean energy for a long time. They will power 100% of their operations with renewable energy by next year. But the company understood that they could not stop there and needed to think about the carbon footprint of their network of sellers shipping products to buyers. And so they have taken the next step of offsetting all of the carbon emissions related to shipping on Etsy. This initiative comes at no additional cost to Etsy buyers or sellers.

To celebrate the launch of carbon offset shipping on Etsy, they are going to do something tomorrow to make a splash.

To jumpstart our efforts and celebrate this milestone, tomorrow (February 28), we will also offset shipping emissions for the entire US ecommerce sector for the day. In the US alone, every day approximately 55,000 metric tons of CO2e are emitted into the atmosphere by delivering packages from online orders. Offsetting this impact for one day is the equivalent of protecting 100 square miles of US forests for one year.

I am a believer in doing well by doing good. There is a lot of that across our portfolio at USV and across our personal investments in tech and real estate. One of the good things we need to do for our world right now is reduce our carbon footprint. And we need to do that urgently. So I am thrilled and proud of Etsy’s leadership and work here. Well done Etsy.

#climate crisis#marketplaces

Comments (Archived):

  1. Greg Kieser

    This is amazing. Also makes me think of Ecosia for searches, where the profits go to planting forests around the world. I have been using Ecosia for quite some time now and it works pretty similar to Google searches… you just lose the linkages to maps and the handy info panels. Small sacrifices for our planet. Check it out if you haven’t:

  2. Richard

    I’m fasting this week if anyone is interested in pigging out – you can have my food credits, but please donate what you would have paid me – minus the transaction costs of the food credits marketplace – to your favorite charity.

  3. Joe Marchese

    We can only hope that all ecommerce operators take a day to do the same. While offsets are an important step, we shouldn’t lose site of the reality that offsets don’t wipe the slate clean… we’re still pumping CO2 in increasing amounts into the atmosphere. What was critically important is now also critically urgent.

    1. DJL

      I am wondering what percentage of CO2 is emitted by all shippers of US ecommerce versus the entire industrial output of India and China?

    2. jason wright

      or simply buy less ‘stuff’.

  4. awaldstein

    I think you wrote this for me Fred.Been moving along the continuum from reimagining philanthropy to now impact economies for a while so this struck a chord.… Currently writing a presentation and I will use Doing Well by Doing Good with attribution, of course.Thanks!

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  5. Chimpwithcans

    Next post with details of offsetting please! There’s a whole industry sprung up in verifying offsets. Would be curious about Etsy’s take on this.Personally, I find the social story Etsy has to tell more compelling than its environmental credentials.But that may change, of course.

  6. DJL

    Congrats to Etsy. AOC will be thrilled (when you give up flying jets and red meat).How would they possibly calculate the carbon footprint of their entire network – which I think is worldwide? The carbon offset industry is a very dark place with near zero data emissions. Its a wonderful idea but there are a lot of assumptions built in.

    1. fredwilson

      there is some data in Josh’s post…

      1. DJL

        Interesting to see how this flows to the financial statements. Are these “cost of goods sold?” Certainly this would be a major financial impact.I don’t see a reference for “In the US alone, every day approximately 55,000 metric tons of CO2e are emitted into the atmosphere by delivering packages from online orders.” but am assuming it comes from 3Degrees.

        1. SFG

          Don’t forget to live your life now as we only have 12 years to live.Personally, I think that if God thought his planet would go to hell in a hand basket due to cars and planes and cows, he’d have not created cows to be so yummy and would not have stuffed the Earth to the gills with oil to foster technically advanced societies.

          1. DJL

            It would be fun to open The Cortez Brand of juicy beef delivered right to your door in diesel trucks.

  7. zakumanoff

    Way to go Etsy!

  8. jason wright

    great. how is the calculation formulated?

  9. creative group

    FRED:can you provide a suggestion on how to bridge the ignorance gap of those being feed there isn’t any carbon or gashouse issues that endanger this planet the smart people amongst us love? The institutions feeding those ignorant (defined: not knowing) know the damages but commerce, greed and politics motivate their willful misinformation.Thanks in advance!Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  10. Tom Labus

    Maybe if enough companies and States move ahead with clean initiatives, we’ll be somehow able to address the issue on a national level.

  11. Drew Deitch

    I love this. I don’t normally shop there (sometimes for gifts), but I’m going to go buy something from Etsy right now as a thank you.

  12. sigmaalgebra

    ForOne of the good things we need to do for our world right now is reduce our carbon footprint. As in, and from the information in,The Great Global Warming Swindleat…(1) claims that it would be good to reduce emissions of CO2, emit less “carbon”, or reduce “carbon footprint” are motivated, case by case, by bad information, special interests, politics, or propaganda;(2) there is no significant, meaningful, rational, or scientific evidence that it is good in any significant sense to reduce emissions of CO2, emit less “carbon”, or reduce “carbon footprint”;(3) in the context of the earth, changes in the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 play no significant role in changes in the temperature or climate of the earth; CO2 is essentially irrelevant and not a cause of significant changes; the causes of significant changes are totally elsewhere;(4) changes in the temperature and climate of the earth are caused by (A) astronomical phenomena and (B) occasionally by especially large volcano eruptions; for (A) there are some causes that are periodic over some tens of thousands of years and otherwise the causes are just variations in the rates of sun spots;(5) for “our world right now” the claims in (1) stand to (A) throw away a lot of US GDP for no good reason or, in the case of anything like The Green New Deal, kill 10s of millions of US citizens in the next 10 years and (B) do severe harm to much needed economic development in many poor countries.Net, reducing CO2 emissions has all downside, in the case of anything like The Green New Deal, some of the worst in all of human history, and essentially no upside. The whole theme of a threat of global warming or climate change from human sources of CO2 is from wrong down to a fraud.Disclosure: No one has encouraged me to make this post. In no way, direct or indirect, do see any direct benefit from this post. My thoughts as expressed here have cost me severely on parts of Internet social media and may cause me additional costs. I make this post merely in the interest of truth and the good of the public.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      The truth is that we (we, humanity not our individual ignorant selves) really don’t know. How stable or unstable the biochemical equilibrium of our habitat is in the long term?. We don’t really know. A hard working scientist may have a clue and as far as I can tell there are good hypotheses on both sides. I can’t validate if they are good enough, I don’t know how. However, I trust they are good enough.Ignorance is bliss.Fortunately, there are smart people working on solutions, just in case.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > How stable or unstable the biochemical equilibrium of our habitat is in the long term?. We don’t really know.That’s right, but for the current question about CO2 there is (A) no good evidence of danger and (B) a lot of good evidence that we are safe from CO2 from humans.Watch the movie: The concern is political, not scientific, practical, rational, honest, or reasonable.Being mathematical, I’m pretty literal and also gullible and easy to manipulate, but at this point the anti-CO2 crowd can no longer manipulate even me. Time to call just dirty politics.In the movie, there are lots of details on the science and then the politics. Keep in mind the usual three: Look for the hidden agenda, follow the money, and look for who has motives.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          Gullible you? You must be kidding. With all due respect, I perceive you as stubborn as a mule, Dr. Sigma. 🙂 That is the only way to undertake a solo project as yours.I agree, follow the money and stay aware of the hidden agendas. And the open agendas too.I will watch the movie.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            I’m not so stubborn: Just sometimes I see my way clear to an objective. For my startup, I guessed I could write the code, and I did — first Web site code, first significant Windows code, as good code as we shipped from IBM, see nothing wrong with it, no need for refactoring, looks ready for production. I saw no reason I should not just write the code alone. I’ve written code all my career, no problems.The main questions now are (1) can I get enough good initial data so that people will like using the site, (2) can I get enough people to try the site, and (3) will enough people like the site well enough to come back often for a long time. But these questions, especially (2)-(3), are standard for all Web sites; there are many millions of Web sites, and each one made some degree of progress on (2)-(3). So, on (2)-(3), I can’t avoid their challenges and have to try on those two like everyone else. Question (1) is in part just having some content, and all sites need that. E.g., AVC has some good content, from you, JLM, JamesHRH, and a few more!!!

          2. Lawrence Brass

            I’m not criticizing you for doing so, writing all the code yourself. It is a luxury few can give themselves. Quality time for thinking, design and coding. Most programmers I work with are rushing code under the pressure of deadlines and picky managers. Doing things right take time, time that few people are willing to pay for, so the only way to good quality code is doing it yourself, at your cost.2 and 3. Make it fun to use. I think that is a key requirement.

    2. scottythebody

      Tere is no significant, meaningful, rational, or scientific evidence that it is good in any significant sense to reduce emissions of CO2, emit less “carbon”, or reduce “carbon footprint”;…for those who are willfully ignorant for political and/or business reasons.Quick question: do you have a special plan for this world?

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Just watch the movie and then say what the threat is from CO2.

        1. scottythebody

          I watched the movie. I must say, they try to make a compelling case and it’s pretty well done. However, there are some serious issues with the movie and it is very manipulative. I’m not expert on the topic, but even I could see that they tell only half of certain “stories” and that remove a lot of context. They also distill a complex issue down to a single factor when, in fact, it is not a single factor involved. Their data is obviously manipulated in the way it is presented to make their case. For example, they randomly stop the chart for sun/heat correlation when the model they want to prove breaks down.I still have no problem at all with carbon offset as a concept. The countermeasures based on CO2 production are one way to quantify activities. CO2 is definitely a metric of certain types of activity that should, for many reasons, be disencetivized. Offsetting those activities by doing things like planting trees can’t hurt anything. So, really, there’s no problem with it at all. And using the whole system as a multi-faceted and loosely aligned group of incentives, disincentivs, and frameworks to migrate from dirty to cleaner energies or to renewable sources is something worth doing.Anyway, even if CO2 isn’t a factor, it’s a bit like religion. Religions are a model for behaviour and activity based on no evidence that the “origin” of that code is real. Behaving in a way that is responsible to the environment and trying to achieve some reduction in the amount of activity which, whether through CO2 or not, likely harms the environment, then I also don’t see too much of a problem. Most of the world’s population walks around deluded about something or the other. (this was supposed to be sarcastic, but it’s hard to pull off in 2 minutes of typing into a web form 😉 )

          1. sigmaalgebra

            I wish they had been more careful with their data: Giving references to the actual numerical values and the actual sources would have made me happier. Yes, with all the actual data, we could check their graphs. But videos essentially never give such references.If someone has some solid debunking, okay, but I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen OCEANS of screaming — all over the media essentially 24 x 7 — about the dangers of climate change but essentially nothing debunking that video.If the climate change alarmists can solidly debunk that video, fine: I don’t want to be wrong. So far, I strongly believe the main points of the video, but the concerns of the alarmists are failing the sniff test and the giggle test but passing the film-flam, fraud, scam test with flying colors. For the alarmists, I’ve long since given up on their rationality and am looking only for the standard three, look for the hidden agenda, follow the money, and look for who has strong motives.It is true that there is some picking around the edges at some Wikipedia pages. And the ocean science guy Carl Wunsch they put on a few times with some nice information about oceans maybe later claimed that he really does believe that CO2 is warming the climate and that the video suggested, implied, whatever something else. I just liked what he said about the oceans.The picture of solar radiation with the arrows bouncing off earth is misleading: What is important is that the earth ABSORBS the solar radiation, including the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet, and, then, the warmer surface of the earth radiates as a Planck black or gray body based ONLY on temperature, radiates nearly all out in the infrared. CO2 absorbs in only three narrow spectral lines and only out in the infrared. So, if CO2 is warming, it’s not much from the sunlight directly but from Planck radiation.I’m prepared to believe their main point: On earth, climate is driven by astronomical causes, especially sun spots, and not at all significantly by CO2 from volcanoes, humans, or anything else. So, reducing “carbon footprint” has essentially nothing to do with climate.That’s just the “inconvenient truth” — CO2 at anything like candidate concentrations, or if believe the video, 10 times current concentrations, has essentially nothing to do with the temperature or climate of earth. Alarmists, good news: You can RELAX.Not even volcanoes, a much more important source of CO2, has much to do with climate except for occasional massive eruptions that put enough ash in the air to spread around the planet, e.g., Krakatoa or Pinatubo. Even then the problem is ash and not CO2.The causes of climate change are, in one word, astronomical, especially sun spots. For the rest of the astronomical cause, there is a quite long term, periodic, with a period of IIRC 100,000 years or so, from something about the precession of the orbit of the earth and/or the motion of the solar system up and down with respect to the plane of the galaxy.CO2? F’get about it. Simple. Dirt simple. Al Gore is at best a scientific DOOFUS. Same for AOC. They both threaten severe damage to the US economy, really threaten US national security, actually much more than Tojo, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao ever dreamed of.Fossil fuels and other uses of carbon, e.g., firewood, do humanity a LOT of good. We need good things and should not get rid of them for no good reason. Poor people and countries very much need more good things, e.g., fossil fuels.E.g., I’ve worked up a nice pizza recipe for one, one meal for one person, good on nutrition, flavor, preparation time, and cost. It’s a good meal, about 600 food calories. It’s faster and better than carry out or delivery and as fast and better than frozen. For each 8 pizzas, have to mix up a batch of dough, but can do that in 20 minutes, and its fun!The star of the show is the crust. The flour for the crust costs about 9 cents per pizza. The ingredients for one pizza cost about 40 cents.Here we’re seeing economic productivity brought heavily from the production of wheat and flour and the supply chain, all of which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels. That’s magnificent success, REALLY good news, and we should not SQUANDER it or throw it away for no good reason.The climate change alarmists are demanding we ignore some terrific natural resources and destroy a LOT of brilliant hard work and magnificent accomplishments all for reasons well beyond any rationality. It’s self-destructive, essentially national psychosis.Yes, back in the more intense part of the debate, some English guy remarked that he was for reducing carbon emissions because of the good it would to some social or cultural something or other even if there was no connection with climate. Gee, why doesn’t he submit to other onerous, expensive, irrelevant restrictions for no good reason? He could stand in a corner on his head for 8 hours a day?CO2 is no danger to climate, has essentially nothing to do with climate.If we run out of oil and want more gasoline, Diesel oil, home heating oil, jet fuel, etc., then we can make it: All that is needed is electric energy, any source of carbon, e.g., coal, and water. South Africa has been making their own gasoline this way for decades.E.g., electric car buyers are discovering that the range is too short and the charging times too long and that a 20 gallon tank of gasoline is tough to compete with. And car buyers with hybrid engines are discovering, as people did with hybrid cars 100 years ago, now they have two engines to buy and maintain instead of just one. There were all-electric and gasoline-hybrid electric cars 100 years ago.US car buyers will be discovering that the 350 cubic inch small block Chevy V-8 with electronic throttle body fuel injection and electronic ignition is TOUGH to compete with — get 200,000 to 400,000 miles with nearly no maintenance of the engine. TOUGH to compete with.So far, batteries are based on just basic chemistry and, thus, have not changed much in 100+ years. Even if chemistry comes up with a dream battery for electric cars, trucks, buses, etc., people will still discover that replacing 20 gallons of gasoline or Diesel oil takes one HECK of a big slug of kilowatts, MUCH more than people have or can hope to have at home for more than, say, a golf cart. Also those kilowatts have to come from somewhere, and for now in the US that is often coal or natural gas — uh, the US Secretary of Energy at Large Jane Fonda and her movie The China Syndrome pretty well shut down nuclear fusion electric generating plant construction in the US. France went ahead — on this point, the French had good sense [to be fair, the French commonly do astounding, world-class work in math, science, medical science, and engineering, and not all of France is fashion frocks and wine].One of the best advantages of the US in the world economy and for US standard of living is the US sources and uses of fossil fuels — with oil, natural gas, and coal, from traditional sources or fracking, on shore or on the continental shelves, heavy oil brought in from Canada, etc., except for the Mideast, we are in essentially the best shape for fossil fuels in the world: E.g., we don’t have to put up with $10 a gallon gasoline and transportation mostly only via motorbikes. Likely in gallons of gasoline per hour of work, we lead the world except for parts of the Mideast — IIRC at one time they were pumping oil for 25 cents a barrel.On the other side, the Al Gore crowd, and now all the Democrats and especially AOC and nearly all the Democrat POTUS candidates, are screaming for restrictions on fossil fuels that would shoot the US economy in the gut. They are talking EXPENSIVE. AOC wants the US off fossil fuels in 10 years: Ocasio-Cortez Demands 100% Renewable Energy in 10 Years from…If we actually did that, then broadly in our country the wheels would stop turning, to quote from a statement supposedly of Churchill about the danger of Rommel reaching the Mideast oil, “Our economy would clang to a halt.” We would cold turkey return to 1900 or so. Our of the population of 330 million people or so, we could expect 10+ million deaths. AOC would be the worst human disaster in all of history.Bluntly, AOC looks wildly overly emotional, hysterical, irrational, and dangerous.Proposals to convert the US to a third world country and kill 10+ million people ….I know; I know; I’m supposed to assume that AOC is just entertainment, doesn’t really mean that. Same for nearly all the Democrat candidates for POTUS. Same for Nancy/Chucky and nearly all the Democrats. And if they VOTE that way, then they WILL at LEAST cost us a LOT and put us on the path to such disaster. Along the way, with starving people rioting in the streets, we’d turn it around, maybe. Or maybe we’d have a revolution. The economic damage would spread to other countries, and we’d be well on the way to WWIII with nukes. So, I’m posting to stop this national psychosis.Politicians before have said terrible things and then DONE them.Definitely I don’t find the climate change alarmists entertaining.I don’t get paid for this post or effort: I’m posting on global warming just to slow pointless, massive harm to the US and the world and to bring some important rationality to the debate.In three words, on CO2, just f’get about it.It’s astounding how well people can do selling massively expensive and destructive total nonsense. My startup has some amazing utility; gee, I should be able to find ways for people to like that!

  13. Chris Lu

    This is amazing news! I have a question though, are there enough carbon reduction projects? It seems like Lyft, Etsy, etc are buying up a lot of carbon credits, but you don’t hear as much about new carbon offset credits being created. Do you think there is room for innovation here?

  14. JamesHRH

    So on brand.

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