This past February, Etsy became the first major online shopping outlet to offset 100 percent of its shipping-related emissions. By 2020, the company expects to be completely carbon neutral.
Etsy launched its carbon-neutral shipping policy through a partnership with 3Degrees, supporting repair and protection of vital woodlands, as well as the construction of renewable energy infrastructure. But the crafty e-retailer has made eco-consciousness a part of its identity from the beginning.
For Chelsea Mozen, Etsy’s sustainability lead, a focus on ecological responsibility begins with a love of nature outside the office. A resident of Hudson Valley, she frequents Canopus Lake in Fahnestock State Park.
“It’s spectacular for swimming and kayaking, with beautiful trails around the lake,” she said. “I [also] have fond memories of spotting hawks in Tompkins Square Park.”
When not hawk-spotting, Mozen has helped Etsy achieve notability for its planet-consciousness. Etsy made sustainability part of its mission statement, and on its company blog and elsewhere, Etsy regularly highlights the eco-consciousness of its sellers and attests to the power of shopping small.
CEO Josh Silverman regularly shares updates from HQ on how the company is working toward a more eco-conscious future. And in 2017, the company received the prestigious Living Building Challenge Petal certification for its headquarters.
“LBC is one of the world’s most rigorous sustainability standards for buildings,” said Mozen. “It takes into account a building’s comprehensive impact on local communities and human health and happiness.”
The result is a colorful, light- and plant-filled space with numerous areas to work, play, meet and relax. Mozen said all materials have been carefully vetted to ensure they meet the highest sustainability standards.
Many large companies may shy away from sustainable practices because they don’t believe that such practices are financially sustainable, or important to their employee base. But according to Mozen, Etsy’s all hands on-deck strategy reduces overall costs for the company and promotes an internal culture of company pride.
“Any visitor to Etsy will see that we have a pretty elaborate setup for recycling and composting,” she said, referring to the facility’s omnipresent waste disposal stations, with slots for everything from paper to compost. “We run zero-waste operations globally, so we count on all of our employees to be mindful of their waste and to properly sort anything they are not using.”
This sense of trust results in a two-way street of employee engagement.
“It was wonderful to see employees’ enthusiasm around the launch of our carbon-offset shipping initiative,” said Mozen. “Employees across the company shared the news on their social media platforms, and we celebrated in person by planting succulents. There was an immense sense of pride that Etsy was blazing a trail in this area.”
For companies looking to make the move into a greener future, Mozen recommends a five-point plan of action:
Assess: Measure your current environmental footprint to understand your company’s impact.
Identify: Using the information from your assessment, research energy-efficient opportunities that can improve upon the status quo.
Invest: Recognize the power of sustainable energy and make smart investments in renewable energy and low-carbon technology.
Leverage: Make use of carbon offsetting tools and technology while working toward further or overall reductions.
Work: Encourage dialogue around these changes with employees, peers, vendors, policymakers and beyond to keep the eco-friendly momentum going.
Mozen said that with this frame of mind, companies of all sizes can achieve major milestones on the path to sustainability. One day, you may be starting an office-wide compost; the next you’re — like Etsy — installing solar panels on the roof.