Brands pay the company a commission to drive traffic to their websites under a standard affiliate marketing model and EcoCart uses a portion of the proceeds to offset a shopper's carbon emissions.
About 10,000 companies work with EcoCart, either through direct partnerships or passive affiliate marketing services. EcoCart also offers a carbon accounting tool for businesses and an offsetting offering for them as well, according to co-founders Peter Twomey and Dane Baker.
The two co-founders, who met at the University of San Diego, previously founded a startup called Toyroom, which rented outdoor equipment to customers in an effort to reduce unnecessary consumption.
"We live this problem ourselves. We realized it was incredibly difficult to maintain this sustainability ethos," Baker said.
While the browser extension sets EcoCart apart from other offsetting services like Cloverly, the company does share some functionality in its business-facing offering where an option to offset the carbon associated with a purchase is integrated directly into the checkout flow.
EcoCart launched its business-to-business integration in June of last year and now counts 500 vendors as customers. So far, about a quarter of customers have chosen to offset their purchases at checkout, amounting to the capture of an estimated 25 million pounds of CO2, the company said.
Investors backing the company include Base10 Partners; PopSugar co-founder Brian Sugar's early-stage venture fund and angel investors like Ben Jabbawy, the founder of Privy; Rich Gardner, the VP of global partnerships at Klaviyo; Kyle Hency, the co-founder of Chubbie; Bryan Meehan, the chair of Blue Bottle Coffee; and Carly Strife, the co-founder of BarkBox.
While online shopping gets a bad reputation, it's actually sometimes a greener option than shopping in physical stores, according to one study published in Nature last year.
Consumer offsets, while well-meaning, don't have nearly the same impact as having the companies themselves actually rein in their greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize their operations. In fact, the whole notion of the consumer carbon footprint and the personal responsibility of consumers for planetary pollution was dreamed up by advertising executives at the behest of oil and gas and consumer goods companies pushing products.
But something is better than nothing, and offsets do help necessary projects get funding.
EcoCart said it spent months developing a proprietary algorithm to calculate the carbon footprint of online orders. For both the e-commerce plug-in and browser extension, EcoCart uses the characteristics of each order, including material inputs to the item, shipping distance and package weight, to estimate the emissions created from that order, the company said.
“We believe EcoCart is reinventing how brands interact with their customers while also managing and addressing their environmental impact at scale,” said Chris Zeoli, principal at Base10 Partners, in a statement. “EcoCart represents a solution that is helping reverse decades of harmful climate change. Base10 is proud to be partnering with the EcoCart founders as they continue to make carbon neutral shopping the new checkout standard for industries including retail, micromobility, food delivery, and more.”