As humans, we can’t help but exhale carbon dioxide every time we breathe, as well as create at least some amount of emissions and waste, no matter how low we try to be. But we can reduce the carbon dioxide we emit through our daily activities such as eating, driving, flying, staying cool and warm, typing an e-mail, and reading under a light.
Fortunately, there are many companies today that will help us reduce our carbon footprint by supporting a range of green products. Carbon reduction initiatives around the world, such as the development of wind and solar energy and the planting of trees.
Online airline booking sites now offer the option to offset the carbon emissions of your air travel with just a few clicks and a few dollars. Many projects are being developed where carbon dioxide can be absorbed or sequestered to prevent it from adding to the greenhouse effect.
For example, they plant trees and other plants that can absorb carbon dioxide prodigiously. Technologies that capture methane gas (20 times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide) from decomposing landfill waste is spreading from coast to coast. And then there are the changes that completely prevent the emission of carbon dioxide: switch to solar and wind energy, electric vehicles, etc.
You can support these carbon minimization and removal activities today and reduce or neutralize your carbon footprint when purchasing so-called “carbon offsets”.
Proponents point out that carbon offsetting creates awareness and a sense of responsibility for an individual’s carbon footprint. Dollars spent on carbon offset projects make markets for developing new green technologies and projects that can have a great impact on reducing and eliminating carbon emissions.
For example, in 2006, the National Football League purchased renewable wind power to offset the 58 tons of carbon dioxide produced during a game in St. Louis. This major wind energy purchase has generated substantial revenue for future wind energy generation, research, and development.
However, critics say buying offsets relieves guilt without encouraging people to change their high-carbon lifestyles. They argue that some offsets don’t efficiently produce sufficient quantities and qualities of carbon sequestration. This may be a good reason for consumers to demand more independent audits, but the argument that carbon offsets aren’t doing as much good as they should easily be put into perspective: a few years ago, almost no one was doing carbon offsetting and there was inexhaustible capital to help develop these promising new projects for the commercialization of green energy and carbon neutralization activities.
Why to buy carbon offsets?
Buying carbon offsets makes a difference, even if you don’t offset in exact proportional to the carbon dioxide produced.
Following these suggestions will help you separate the best companies from the rest:
Be sure the organization or company offering offsets give you specific details about the offsetting activities your dollars will support. Check to see if there is scientific evidence that such sequestration or activity prevents carbon dioxide or methane emissions.
Find major certification monitoring and confirmation organizations such as the Center for Resource Solutions. As more people jump on the bandwagon to fight for carbon neutrality, we are bound to see more consumer audits and review resources to help us sort through the rapidly growing business of carbon offsets.
In the meantime, you can feel good about buying carbon offsets for yourself or as a gift for loved ones, knowing that each offset purchased is a gift for future generations and other living beings.