Boy, this isn’t a question I’ll answer today: Is online shopping good or bad for the environment? I was thinking about it because I spent three days last week at a conference in Portland with ebay as my neighbor. I was there to promote an encyclopedia and they were there to recruit, and during slow times we had fun chatting about websites and customers.

ebay and other online exchange systems like Freecycle (which is only free stuff) enable us to transcend the local to find new homes for useful items, and to buy used items instead of brand-new things. In that sense, they are nothing but good. Nonetheless, as I’ve already discovered, ebay shopping can be quite engrossing, and expensive. I started by looking for a chintz pattern tea cup and have accumulated one or two things more than that (and that’s all I’m saying about it; my lips are sealed).

Besides that, the transportation and packing have to be counted in. My packages came practially wrapped in plastic tape, even though there was a sturdy self-sealing box, perhaps because the sellers get obsessed with getting top ratings for service. I guess my next step is to write to my new friends at ebay suggesting they start a green initiative. But given that one seemed to think global warming was a hoax, I need to give a little more thought to how I approach this one!

karen christensen's corona typewriter on t s eliot's desk

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