Confessions of a Travel Junkie: How to Offset your Carbon Footprint
I have a confession. I am a travel junkie that is addicted to the rush of takeoff on a plane going just about anywhere. As I write this I am on a layover in Denver International Airport on my way back home to Florida after a much needed visit to see my friends and family in Cali. With my new nephew on the way and many exciting occasions to keep me frequently flying, I find myself presented with a dilemma. How can I sustain my bi-coastal commitments while trying to curb my CO2 emissions?
I have long been curious about carbon offsets and have heard many differing opinons on them over the years. These include increased carbon output from those buying guilt-free consciences to misallocated money and mismanaged projects. I decided to do some much needed research because I find to do something is better than to do nothing.
After logging many hours at my computer, I found three sources, Terrapass, Carbonfund.org, and Native Energy that have been certified by the credible Climate Action Reserve with excellent programs that I admire. And calculating my footprint was simple and took less than five minutes.
Although I was terrified as I typed in my itinerary, when my total popped up after clicking calculate I sighed in relief knowing that it would not kill my budget. My roundtrip flight from Florida to California was only $7.76 on Carbonfund.org (which is the only non-profit organization of the three). Turns out the money I save from my air travel tips more than covers this offset amount!
So what exactly are you purchasing you may ask? When you buy carbon offsets you are investing in projects that capture greenhouse gases and ideally you want to offset the amount you produce. These can range from wind farms to reforestation to methane capture to conservation of rainforests. And the programs you support are ones that would not exist without the funds from these offsets. You can read more about the projects at each of the sites and they all provide calculators that are easy to use to customize your offset needs from single air travel trips to annual household expenditure.
There are also calculators for events such as weddings and parties. You can easily figure out how much carbon emissions will be produced by your celebration and could make a cute collection jar or money tree for attendees to give a few dollars to cover the cost. I think this is a great idea for a baby shower because it is helping make the world a healthier place for their future.
Also, if you travel a lot for work, ask your employer if they would be willing to purchase carbon offsets for you. At $226.10/year, Terrapass offers a Jet Setter pass that covers a substantial amount of air travel, car travel and hotel accommodation emissions. Most companies are trying to increase their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and it would most likely be a tax break for them and a boost to their image. And if you and enough of your coworkers request it, they may even make it a corporate policy and then could use it for their own positive PR. Pitch it as a win-win to your boss and he will be impressed at your strategic planning!
Safe travels everyone!