I was pretty good about keeping my carbon emissions low throughout the year – I rode my bike or took public transportation to work every day, I purchased wind energy from my power company to power my home, and I combined my exercise routine with my shopping and I walked to the grocery store. But then the holidays rolled around, and all of my well intentions went straight out the window. Not only were there multiple trips to the store to grab that last minute item for the dinner party, but there were trips out of town to visit relatives and trips to the mall to grab that last minute gift. All of those fattening leftovers that went into the garbage bin, all of those extra cardboard delivery boxes piling up near the recycling bin… and on top of that… I went on a vacation! Did I just manage to erase all of my carbon-neutral months in one giant four-week long carbon emitting binge?
What’s an eco girl to do? I’ve decided to purchase carbon offsets to help negate all of the pollution that I caused in December – and though purchasing a few dozen carbon offset credits doesn’t wipe my carbon footprint completely away, when coupled with my usual low-carbon lifestyle I thought that it would at least help appease my guilty conscience.
By visiting carbon offset charitable websites like Terrapass, Carbon Fund, or Green Mountain Energy, you can calculate your own carbon footprint and decide whether you want to purchase trees to off-set your carbon emissions, or purchase carbon off-sets straight from the website. You should make sure that the off-set project is certified and verified by third-party vendors, and that company has a public audit available on their website. It doesn’t hurt to check third-party websites like Charity Navigator, Guide Star or even the Better Business Bureau to do a little due diligence before you purchase your credits.
Many sites let you chose whether you want to purchase a standard deduction, or if you want to calculate your own individual carbon footprint. You can always calculate your footprint for just one carbon-heavy month, or you can decide to offset your whole year of carbon emissions. Or, calculate your footprint, and then see what you can do to reduce it over the next few months. Regardless of what you choose, the earth will thank you!