Office, San Francisco, 2010


Project brief: eBay asked Office to develop a new set of shipping boxes as part of a pilot program to help make shipping a little greener. The company planned to give away 100,000 boxes to eBay sellers, then encourage recipients to reuse them. According to eBay, if each box gets used five times, the program could protect nearly 4,000 trees, save 2.4 million gallons of water and conserve enough electricity to power 49 homes for a year. A successful project would mean that the boxes would be reused and recipients would register their boxes so eBay could track them. Based on this, the company would decide whether to continue and expand the program.

Approach: Consistent with eBay’s brand positioning, Office developed friendly illustrations and copy that emphasizes potential benefits to the planet and tips for greener packing. There’s a website to track each box’s journey, as well as space on each box to write a note so the next person to receive it can see just how far it’s come.

Although it wasn’t part of the project brief, Office also worked with the box manufacturer and printer to develop an environmentally friendly solution. Each eBay box is made with 100 percent recycled content, printed with water-based inks and designed to require minimal tape. Once it reaches the end of its useful shipping life, it’s fully recyclable. From the box’s fine print: “Don’t worry, it will come back as something nice, like a birthday card or movie-theater popcorn bag.”

Effectiveness: eBay sellers were so excited about the box program that all 100,000 boxes were claimed immediately after launch. To date, many of the boxes have been registered and are being reused. The boxes were also covered widely in the media and blogosphere, helping position eBay as a green leader and encouraging other companies to follow. The response exceeded the client’s expectations, and they are planning to expand the program further, with details to be announced later this spring.

Juror Notes

The whimsical nature of the box is not the point; it’s the story of where it’s been.

Collections: AIGA 365: Design Effectiveness (2011)
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Package design
Format: Package, Product