Jesse Putnam is the founder and director of Eco Encore, a Seattle-based nonprofit that generates financial support for environmental organizations through the sale of used books, CDs, DVDs, and videos.

Monday, 24 Feb 2003

SEATTLE, Wash.

After making the very eco-efficient commute to work (right out of my kitchen, left at the lamp, straight ahead to my spare-bedroom-cum-home-office), I fire up my Gateway and download today’s Eco Encore orders. A woman in State College, Penn., purchases The New French Feminisms: An Anthology. From Rock Hill, Mo., comes a request for Les Miserables: Original London Cast Recording. My inbox soon displays five orders from people across the country. Each of these orders will be filled thanks to our modest but diverse inventory of used CDs, videos, DVDs, and books — all of which have been donated to Eco Encore — and the proceeds from each sale will be distributed to environmental organizations in the greater Seattle area. For example, the Les Miserables CD will net a respectable $14.91 for ONE/Northwest, the finest tech-support provider to Northwest environmental organizations. In addition, each of these sales ensures that a used and unwanted item will remain in use and out of the landfill.

Eco Encore lists all of our items for sale via our Amazon.com online store and many through a Half.com store as well. We package our items in reused envelopes and ship them out via U.S. Postal Service media mail. Thus, the environmental impact of each transaction is truly minimal — especially as compared to the ecological demand (think manufacture, advertising, packaging, delivery) of the same item were it sold new.

Ripken.

I have packaged and shipped all of the items we have sold thus far (about 700 since we started up last October) and will handle today’s orders with the trusty support and companionship of Ripken, Seattle’s most friendly dog and an honorary Eco Encore board member. But our two-creature staff will soon get some help as the rest of the Eco Encore board is meeting tonight for a training session, to learn about our listing and fulfillment process in preparation for an anticipated boost in business. Our outreach committee decided at their last meeting that the board should understand the process for listing items on our Amazon and Half.com stores and get trained on how to fill orders before we get flooded with donations and orders.

Before the training workshop I have a meeting with a prospective intern, Michelle, who will soon graduate from the University of Washington and is interested in being involved with Eco Encore. We are looking to find an intern to lead our outreach effort, and if Michelle decides to join us she will likely serve as the staff person for the outreach committee and be responsible for increasing local community awareness of our project and getting us more donations. Early indications are that the folks most interested in donating used media (books, CDs, DVDs, and videos) to Eco Encore are people who are moving or cleaning out their garage or basement and who like the idea of their old “junk” being transformed into cash for local environmental groups.

Right now I gotta pack up this morning’s orders and get them in the mailbox before Ken (we are cozy with our local USPS staff) comes to get the day’s mail!