carbon offset

What You Can Do: The Impact of Carbon Offset Purchases

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate at PGi’s #ShiftNYC conference, which was presented in partnership with SocialPeopleTV. I hadn’t traveled for months and relished the idea of visiting New York City, spending four days in a beautiful coworking space, and meeting creative dynamic professionals. Still, I was hesitant—as soon as I got on the plane I knew I was about to increase my carbon footprint significantly.

There is a solution: carbon offsets.

When environmentally-conscious individuals must inevitably fly, purchasing carbon offsets is a way of contributing to positive sustainable solutions. Carbon offset purchases reduce GHG emissions by funding renewable energy projects, including wind farms, biomass energy, or hydroelectric dams. Carbon offsets can also include other projects working to eliminate industrial pollutants or landfill methane, or improve forestry growth.

All you have to do is search for organizations, both for profit and non-profit, and you’ll find numerous carbon offset providers that align with your interests. Consumers should look carefully where the money goes. And check recommended standards such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Verified Carbon Standard (formerly the Voluntary Carbon Standard).

Below are a few global sources that Tufts University lists as “go to” carbon offset purchasing resources to consider:

myclimate: a non-profit company based in Switzerland
atmosfair: a German non-profit company focusing on offsetting air travel
climate friendly: an Australian-based for-profit company
NativeEnergy: a US-based for-profit company

There are critics who object to carbon offsets, asking if they really do make a significant difference. But overall, most feel it represents a positive, simple action we can take as either individuals or businesses to counterbalance the impact of negative environmental choices. When I returned to Austin, I checked the Native Energy site and discovered that my 3,000-mile journey produced 3 tons of CO2. The total cost of the offset? Just $42.00. Seriously, this was less than I paid for drinks in New York, and I felt great about it. Native Energy uses these offset donations to sponsor projects that create sustainable economic benefits for Native Americans, Native Alaskan villages, family farmers, and rural communities—efforts very dear to my heart. An extra perk: most carbon offsets are tax deductible.

Every positive choice you make, large or small, is a contribution to our planet’s healing. Last week, I recognized that to be a part of something great in New York City I had to fly. Today I made another choice, one that helps to balance the equation.

Tell us on the PGi blog: have you ever purchased a carbon offset? If so, what was your experience?


About Lea G.

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