On the eBay Green Team, it’s our mission to “inspire the world to buy, sell and think green every day,” but just as often, it’s our customers and employees who inspire us.
Every spring, eBay hosts an Innovation Expo that invites eBay employees, from every department and level of the organization, to develop prototypes for new products and breakthrough innovations that benefit our buyers and sellers. This year, more than 250 employees on nearly 80 teams competed for the top prize. Entries ranged from a tool that surfaces the best deals on eBay to a product that flags more environmentally friendly options on eBay Motors (we loved that one!).
A record 1300 eBay employees – plus executives and board members, including eBay CEO John Donahoe and founder Pierre Omidyar – came out this year to listen to product pitches, test out prototypes and vote on their favorite entries. In the end, five winning ideas were selected, and teams throughout the company are working fast and furiously to bring the concepts to life.
This year’s grand prize winner was an idea called “simple green shipping.” Basically, it’s a durable box that’s been designed to be used over and over and over again. That might sound like a pretty simple concept, but we think the idea is actually pretty powerful – especially in a marketplace like eBay where many of our buyers are also sellers and sellers are also buyers.
Six months later – and with the help of countless volunteer hours from employees across the company – the eBay Box will see the light of day at our fourth and final eBay: On Location event in San Jose, nearly fifteen years to the day Pierre Omidyar closed his first sale on eBay. We’re printing 100,000 boxes in three sizes and giving eBay: On Location participants and eBay Green Team members a limited chance to sign up to participate in the pilot.
By our calculations, if every box gets reused at least five times, we could protect nearly 4,000 trees, save 2.4 million gallons of water and conserve enough energy to power 49 homes for a year. We’ve also left plenty of space on the boxes for you – and everyone else who receives the box – to write a personal message to the next person in the chain, giving every box a life of its very own. The history of each box can also be tracked through a virtual community where buyers and sellers can connect online.
It’s normal for boxes to get a few bumps and scrapes as they travel, and some of you may be wondering what happens when a box reaches the end of its useful shipping life. Not to worry, we’ve thought about that too. All of the eBay Boxes are made from 100% recycled content, FSC-certified corrugated cardboard and are fully recyclable. But once you see the boxes up close (we’re giving you a sneak peek inside), we hope you’ll agree that they’re way too special to trash.