Hey Explorers! As mentioned in my blog last week about Ecotourism, I am coming to you today to explain what is a Carbon Offset with the help of some of my research.
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Now on to the topic for the day...Carbon Offset!
A carbon offset is a way for anyone to donate money to the environment to repair for the damage of their carbon footprint. So yes, you make a carbon footprint outside of just travel and therefore this could be for ANYONE! You can make a carbon footprint whenever you drive your car, heat your home, fly on a plane, buy foods, etc. Yes....when you buy food you can create a carbon footprint. This is because the production and transportation of getting food from a farm or factory to your grocery shelf could be significant.
Hold up...what exactly is a carbon footprint?
Well, per Google's dictionary it is "the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc".
Per The Guardian, "The dominant man-made greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted whenever we burn fossil fuels in homes, factories or power stations. But other greenhouse gases are also important. Methane (CH4), for example, which is emitted mainly by agriculture and landfill sites, is 25 times more potent per kilogram than CO2. Even more potent but emitted in smaller quantities are nitrous oxide (N2O), which is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and released mainly from industrial processes and farming, and refrigerant gases, which are typically several thousand times more potent than CO2". It is important to be mindful of what you are emitting into the air inside and outside of travel.
Now let us break down carbon footprint:
Carbon is the carbon dioxide which is released into the air due to use of those things mentioned above (i.e. car, planes, etc.). The footprint is the carbon you have left behind because of your use. This is also referred to as greenhouse gases which in turn is causing climate change.
If you are a travel nut such as myself, try participating in a carbon offset program for your next flight to help reduce your travel emissions. Below is a list of airlines I am aware of which has a carbon offset program:
United: This airline has a Eco-Skies CarbonChoice Program in which as a customer you can volunteer to offset the emissions related to your portion of air travel with that purchase. You calculate how much of the emissions you will use on your flight and you will then have the option to donate to one of the program's reduction projects. Read more about their program here: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/company/globalcitizenship/environment/carbon-offset-program.aspx.
Qantas: This airline helps conserve rainforests and reducing emissions through their Qantas Future Planet program. You can offset your portion of your flight emissions when you are booking. To learn more about their program, visit: https://www.qantas.com/travel/airlines/offsetting-emissions-together/global/en.
Virgin Australia: I discussed their program during my Ecotourism blog in which you can read here: https://www.kitatheexplorer.com/single-post/Ecotourism-Your-Heart-Out. You can also learn about their program at: https://www.virginaustralia.com/us/en/about-us/sustainability/carbon-offset-program/.
Delta: Delta has a similar process as United where you calculate your estimated emissions you will use on your upcoming flight. You can then donate money through Delta which goes to various projects under the Nature's Conservancy such as the Clinch Valley Conservation Forestry Program. This program helps protect 22,000 acres of forest in Virginia. To learn more about Delta's program, click here: https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/about-delta/corporate-responsibility/carbon-emissions-calculator.html#mean.
Here are additional airlines who have a carbon offset program. You can click the links next to their name to find out additional details but I will not explain them here.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) who is a trade association for the world's airlines (representing 280 airlines) has details on their website in regards to guidelines and frequently asked questions about these programs. You can obtain this information at http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/environment/Pages/carbon-offset.aspx.
If you are weary about offsetting your carbon emissions through your airline or your airline doesn't have a carbon offset program, you can do so outside of them. You can donate directly to the Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy has a calculator where you can calculate all of your emissions (not just air travel) used and you can decide how much to offset. Check out the Nature Conservancy program details at https://www.nature.org/membership-giving/donation/gift-ideas/carbon-offsets.xml.
If you don't want to donate or you cannot afford to donate money, try volunteering to plant trees. Trees are the best source to reduce CO2 levels. Buy some seeds, a baby tree, or help an organization! It is a great way to help offset your carbon usage while participating in a great activity with others.
With all of this said, be mindful of everything you do. As the smallest thing as an ear of corn may have used more of the world's energy than we expect. From fertilization while on the farm which runs into rivers to the gas on the trucks to get it to the store to your use of gas to get to the store to buy it.
I hope this has enlightened you as to what you can do to help the environment while you travel and will implement a few changes into your lifestyle or travel style. If you still need encouragement as to why, please review my blog Environmental Work & Travel.
If you have any questions, comment below!
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Thank you for reading!
~ Kita the Explorer
P.S. I'm not sponsored by any of the companies linked in this post, I just have used them and I am providing them as a resource to you.