Trade Me's Accidental Eco Warriors

There’s a good chance you’re an Accidental Eco Warrior, one of those people doing something very cool for the environment, and you don’t even know it. We’re here today to celebrate you and everything you’re doing.

With the help of some sustainability gurus (below) we’ve been doing some digging into our data to figure out how sustainable it is to buy and sell on Trade Me, and to test it out we took a close look at our fridges category. Our data is the most comprehensive (and easiest to get to) from 2008 onwards so we had a gander at the last nine years of numbers.

What we found out was very cool and we wanted to give our Accidental Eco Warriors a massive high five for all your efforts.

Fridges contain all sorts of nasty gases in them that, if not disposed of/taken care of properly, can leak into the environment when their days are done.

Over nine years more than 200,000 Trade Me members have bought and sold fridges on Trade Me for their home, flat, man cave, small business and crib and what they’ve been doing has been very cool for our environment.

By giving their fridges another life on Trade Me our Accidental Eco Warriors have saved (an estimated) 32,292 tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere, they’ve saved an estimated 18,000 fridges from entering landfills around the country and they’ve saved $4.2m in environmental costs.

To put that in real terms, to remove that amount of CO2 from the environment it would take a year for a 3,754 hectare forest of mature trees (9-10 years old) to do the same. That’s roughly the size of Herne Bay, Karori and Alexandra combined.

To help you get an idea of the number of fridges saved from landfill let us put it this way - on average fridges are around 1.65m high - 18,000 of them would be about 29.7km. That’s the height of 8 Aoraki/Mount Cooks or longer than driving from Invercargill to Bluff. Fridges have big bums so they take up two seats but that’s enough fridges to fill the stands at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium!

The environmental costs are saved by Councils who can prolong the life of their landfills, earn recycling revenue, foster local jobs in addition to the wider environment saving of keeping gas emissions from entering our atmosphere. 

There are additional environmental savings like the water and energy that isn’t required to make new steel for example due to the steel recycling, which we don’t even go into here.

How did we discover these numbers?
We had our experts make a number of calculations based on their expertise, including looking at the number of fridges that would have ended up in landfill if they hadn’t been disposed of properly.

What do you want us to do?
Pat yourself on the back. You’re helping the environment and you didn’t know it!

If you’re into this though, there’s heaps of reading you can do on this front. Check out your Council’s website for what's going on in your area, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, WasteMINZ  or the Ministry for the Environment's site.

Who are the sustainability experts?

  • Laurence Bouret - CEO of the French Governments’ Product Stewardship Scheme for sharps (needles & hard to recycle stuff). Among the portfolio of sustainability initiatives that Laurence looks after, she is also head of a French NGO coordinating waste minimisation.
  • Jacqui Forbes (Ngāruahine) - Kaitiaki who has been involved in organisations including Xtreme Zero Waste - managers of the Raglan Resource Recovery Centre, along with assisting to run the Para Kore Marae Waste Minimisation Programme. Jacqui leads a team of regional waste advisors passionate and committed to the mission of 'By 2020 all marae are working towards zero waste.'
  • Russ Martin - Chief Executive of the Global Product Stewardship Council, deeply involved in facilitating product stewardship schemes internationally. Russ has also been appointed by the Australian Government to the advisory board for development of Product Stewardship framework legislation. In 2015, Russ won a Global Green Future Leadership award from the World CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Congress.
  • Rae Nield - Sustainability guru who is a lawyer with a science, marketing and general management background. She specialises in the law which affects the supply chain for goods and services, including waste minimisation and other issues which impact upon the efficient use of resources.
  • Darcy Hitchcock - Leads the Sustainability Alliance in Arizona, is a passionate sustainability advocate who has authored a number of books on the subject, has taught Sustainable Business at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. Darcy also co-founded the International Society for Sustainability Practitioners.
  • Nic Bishop - Sustainability Catalyst, chair of the Trade Me Circular Economy Initiative. Nic has worked for and advises a number of New Zealand’s largest and most trusted organisations on sustainability and social responsibility.

What’s next?
We think this is really cool and we’re going to look further into other categories to see what other awesome environmental things Trade Me members have been doing. We’re also taking a look at our offices and seeing what we could do to be more sustainable at our Trade Me offices.

If you want more information or you have some ideas for us hit us up here.


Why did you just look at fridges?
We decided recently that we just didn’t know how sustainable buying and selling on Trade Me is so we decided to explore it. We know that fridges have some pretty nasty gases in them if they’re not looked after so we picked the fridges category as the first place we’d take a good look.

We knew that some old fridges are not efficient to keep trading, so wanted to get some stats on this too and take this into account.

This is just the first place we’ve looked in depth. We plan on investigating other categories if our members tell us they’re into this. To give an idea of the scale, this is just 1 of 800 categories of secondhand items traded onsite.

How did you come up with these numbers?
Our sustainability gurus (above) looked at our data and made the calculations based on some conservative estimates of the number of fridges on Trade Me that should have been decommissioned, those that were saved from landfill and what the impact of those fridges would have been to the environment if they hadn’t found a new home via Trade Me.

Why are you doing this?
We looked into this and we found it really interesting. We thought our members would too and we wanted to celebrate what they’ve been doing either knowingly or unwittingly.

What else are you doing to help the environment?
We’re taking a look at a number of practices around our offices to see if we could be more sustainable. That’s in everything we’re doing from our Trade Me t-shirts to the water we use and our waste.

What should I do with this information?
We did this to celebrate our members and what they’ve done. We don’t expect you to change your behaviour but we thought you might be pretty chuffed to know that buying and selling on Trade Me had a totally unintended environmental impact.