If “Going Green” means to recycle, use less, waste less and pollute less, then eBay is going green in a big way. In fact, by that reasoning, eBay has been going green since it sold its first used product in 1995. You might say that eBay’s business model is inadvertently green to its very core, though it hasn’t always been portrayed as such. The original eBay was likened more to an online garage sale, a place to peddle junk with a few gems scattered about if you’re savvy enough to find them. Interestingly enough, present day eBay is taking on a much more proactive communication strategy, capitalizing on its fortunate position as the world’s largest recycler. The biggest challenge will no doubt be to convince customers that recycled products and shoddy products are not synonymous.
Until hearing Amy Skoczlas Cole, Director of eBay’s Green Team, speak, I assumed that the eBay Green Team was nothing more than a cute way to highlight the same used products, just under a green facade. Yes, there is an eBay interface that showcases recycled, energy efficient and sustainable products within the eBay framework. But what’s much more intriguing about eBay’s efforts is the bottom up movement toward change that is shockingly similar to Walmart’s Personal Sustainability Project. I quickly learned that the Green Team started as a groundswell of 40 eBay employees seeking to improve the sustainability efforts of their employer. Instead of ignoring or even suppressing the Green Team’s efforts, eBay embraced them, injecting them into the company, eventually extending membership to customers and hiring people like Cole to facilitate. Now the Green Team is over 200,000 strong and armed with a built-in sustainable message, “Use what already exists.” The table is set for eBay. Any marketer would foam at the mouth for the opportunity to play with eBay’s hand.
I’m afraid delving too far into a Green Team logo critique might cheapen the good things eBay has going for it. It’s just plain forgettable. But hey, it’s got leaves, so it’s got that going for it.