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The climate dilemma of e-commerce

Customers, regulators and foremost our climate is increasingly demanding all industries and all individuals to massively act on their climate impact. Within this picture, e-commerce is in an especially vulnerable situation due to several aspects:

  • 40% of an average person's footprint is due to their private consumption, which shows the importance of tackling this issue

  • Unlike other industries it hardly can change the underlying technology on scale and thereby massively reduce their impact, as the energy and mobility sector can by changing from fossil fuels to renewables.

  • Knowledge on the carbon footprint of products is extremely limited, supply chains are often long and intransparent. Being the trader or purchaser of products, information is even harder to get than for the brands themselves.

  • Most people show little to no interest in reducing their shopping behavior. And good products can actually make our lives easier and sometimes simply nicer.

  • The globalization in e-commerce is putting pressure on the environment due to long distance travels of goods, but it also brought economic development and participation opportunities to countries across the globe.

  • It´s very unclear who is actually responsible for the carbon emissions for a sold product. The consumer, traders and commerce or brands or their manufacturers?

Who do we ask to change?

So what are our options? We could tell people shopping is bad in general - with probably very limited positive feedback besides some comparably small consumer bubbles... We could wait for governments to come up with restrictions and regulations - prepare yourself for a long wait there… We could personally try to switch to only environmentally friendly brands and products - where selection has massively increased during the last years, but they are not always easy to identify and often still limited and/or expensive... We can ask online shops to sell only environmentally friendly brands - but these shops already exist and people still buy elsewhere... We can demand and support brands to change the materials they use, to push cyclic approaches, longer use, and better re-use of products - this is definitely a path forward. A path that many brands have already started to take the first steps on. But it will still take time. And if climate science is teaching is anything, it is that we don´t have any more time to lose.

We believe that climate action in e-commerce only happens if it is integrated into existing consumer journeys.

Climate action has to be enabled directly at the point-of-decision, at the point-of-sales. Frictionless and smooth. Because humankind is a very lazy species And because we can not wait for 7 billion people to change their shopping behavior immediately and drastically.

This is why we founded Yook. We add climate action to the existing shopping experience. And with enabling climate action we actually mean the following:

  • Enabling educated decision-making by providing transparent carbon information on product level across the whole product portfolio. This enables online shops to highlight climate-friendly alternatives, offer to sort and filter thus providing the consumer with relevant information for their purchase decision.

  • Offering carbon offsetting for the remaining carbon impact of the shopping cart. Because carbon offsetting is the best bridge technology we have at hand to compensate our carbon emissions immediately, trying to avoid reaching new tipping points of climate change.

We do this by providing a simple-to-install extension for online shops, that integrates across these different touchpoints along the customer journey. Following existing e-commerce process and user flows.

Our theory of change is, that by making climate action as simple as possible we have the best chances to create impact at scale.

This is best reflected by this quote, where we don´t know the origin but highly agree with the content:

"We don´t need a few perfect climate activists, we need millions of unperfect ones."
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