07/09/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Consumer Trend: eBay Is Greener Than You Think

eBay is essentially the world's biggest yard sale. Anyone with access to the internet can purchase or sell goods with a few clicks of the mouse. It's true that millions of brand new goods are sold on eBay, since manufacturers and discount stores use it to reach a wider customer base. However, a large percentage of eBayers are ordinary people looking for deals on used goods or trying to sell their old possessions.

On eBay you can both save money and make money while helping reduce waste. As a seller, you can divert your used electronics, clothing, and other items from the landfill, and as a buyer you can get years of use out of something that would otherwise be sitting in a garage or closet.

Green Tips for eBay Buyers:

* Purchase used items and not new ones. You can choose from an array of individual sellers going the virtual-yard-sale route, consignors, and vintage dealers.

* Ask your seller to use the minimum amount of packaging needed to keep your item safe in transit.

* Keep packaging materials that you receive for future use. Bigger boxes can come in handy for moving, smaller boxes can be used for storage and organization, and materials such as bubble wrap and tissue paper can do wonders in a gift-wrapping pinch (though we hope your sellers don't use them).

Green Tips for eBay Sellers:

* Use earth-friendly packaging materials. Avoid Styrofoam peanuts and blocks, bubble wrap, and tissue paper. Some great alternatives: balled-up magazine pages, newspapers (although watch out for ink transfer), and specialized recycled packaging materials.

* Consider shipping via USPS Priority Mail or Express Mail, since packaging materials for those services are Cradle to Cradle. eBay even has co-branded boxes that you can order, and USPS will deliver them to you free of charge.

* Print your invoices on recycled paper and include a note asking your buyer to recycle them as well as your recyclable packaging materials.

* Donate a percentage of your proceeds to a green charity and make sure to let your buyers know you are doing so.

Got more ideas on how to green the eBay experience? Please share!

This post was inspired by Planet Green's show, Living with Ed