Carbon Offsets (Part 2): The practical side
In my last post I pondered the pros and cons of offsetting one’s carbon footprint. I support the philosophy of taking as many practical and real measures to reduce your carbon (or, in general, environmental) footprint, but for things that are unavoidable, unknown, or unforeseen (“externalities”) I think offsets provide an opportunity to compensate in some way.
I mentioned also that all offsets are not created equal. So what can we do to make sure we make a good decision? Here are some tips, and a bit about what we did at EcoEgo.
Learn about offsets: There are a few places on the Net that I found interesting and inspiring. Amongst them were David Suzuki’s pages (a truly inspiring site in general):
treehugger’s blog also takes on the subject and links to EDF’s (Environmental Defense Fund) suggestions for finding quality offsets:
Even Wikipedia has a lot of good information to offer:
Two of the biggest discussions are on the quality of offsets and on the validity of tree-planting as an offset mechanism. These have become sensitive subjects. Read, learn, and find out what you think on the issues. For me, I think it is important to look at each situation. For example, I would not consider tree-planting in a plantation situation (where the short term plan is that the trees will be harvested) as a good offset. Reforestation, where the long term plan is redevelopment of permanent (in theory) forest area, could be a viable alternative.
So, what did we do at EcoEgo? Our situation is a bit special. From the start we have tried to build and run our business in an environmentally and socially responsible way. We are constantly taking practical steps to reduce our environmental footprint. Recently, we retrofitted our (recycled from another store) lighting system with LED spots, saving us about 80% on our lighting bill. We sell only “eco” products, so all-in-all our profile is pretty green. I’m not mentioning this to pat ourselves on the back. It is to highlight that we admit that we are not perfect. We can’t do it all, and there are definitely things that we cannot avoid, that we are not aware of, or that will pop up in the future. One example is transport. We need to send and receive products. Even if we source things locally, we can’t always deliver or pick up on our bike. So we decided to offset these impacts and a bit more to cover externalities.
We took a look at what was out there and decided to become a Carbonfree Partner with Carbonfund.org. Carbonfund.org is a non-profit providing high quality offsets. One thing that especially impressed me was the level of detail in their “carbon calculator”. Now, this is what met our needs and we can definitely recommend them, but you should see what is out there and pick an offset partner that fits your profile and meets your businesses or home needs.
Here are some more links:
There are so many groups that offset these days, and they can be found in many countries. Many are good, some should be avoided. Do a search on the Net. If you have good experience with a group, support them here with a link to their site and tell about your experience. I’ll post more good links as I come across them. Right now I’d like to get this posted so we can get the ball rolling…
Have a bright green day!
(Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)