If you find yourself asking, “What is carbon offsetting?” you’re not alone! Carbon offsetting is the concept of matching carbon emissions with equal levels of carbon reduction to reduce the amount of carbon that enters the atmosphere.
For example, suppose a building produces 2 tonnes of CO2 per year. In that case, the occupants could theoretically offset that carbon by planting a certain number of trees that remove an equal amount of carbon from the air. In the end, the goal is reaching a point of carbon neutrality, where carbon emissions and reductions cancel each other out.
There are debates over specific carbon offsetting methods, but the majority of those debates are between companies and...other companies. We won’t jump into the middle of that arena just yet, but we will address the personal side of carbon offsetting. There are plenty of things you can do and actions you can take to start offsetting your carbon production, and we’re here to give you a great starting point.
The Problem With Carbon Footprints
In the world of sustainability, carbon footprints can be an awkward topic of conversation. On the one hand, the concept of a carbon footprint gives us a straightforward, understandable representation of our impact on the environment. A carbon footprint gives you a rough estimate of your carbon-producing activities and shows you possible ways to cut back on your carbon production if you can!
On the other hand, the whole idea of carbon footprints began as an ad campaign by the oil conglomerate British Petroleum (BP) as a way to shift attention away from their contribution to global warming. They created the carbon footprint to “show the world” that things like driving cars and eating meat were creating carbon emissions, leading to global warming. While technically true, the ad campaign neglected to mention BP’s own contribution to climate change.
You might remember BP best as the company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, considered one of the worst ecological disasters in history, as over 130 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. The wildlife of that area still hasn’t recovered from the disaster, and the ripple effects of the spill are still doing significant harm to the marine and global environment.
So, while the idea of a carbon footprint can be helpful in some ways, it has also allowed many corporations to continue polluting the environment, all the while blaming everyday people for climate change.
Still Making a Difference
Obviously, this isn’t meant to discourage you from reducing your own carbon emissions but rather show you how complex the issue can be. Any changes you make to your life that cut down on greenhouse gas emissions are good changes, and they still contribute to the fight against climate change.
With all of that out of the way, let’s look at three great steps you can take in your personal life to start reducing carbon emissions.
Examine Your Commute
One of the most prominent contributors to climate change is pollution from fuel-powered vehicles like cars, trucks, and airplanes. Though your own contribution is relatively small compared to the overall picture, there are ways you can bring that number down.
For starters, take a look at your daily work commute (if you have one), and see if there are any alternative methods of getting to the office on time! If you live close enough to the office, you could think about biking or using public transportation rather than your own vehicle. You might also consider creating a carpool with other people in the office or joining one if it already exists!
Some people absolutely can’t get to work without driving, and that’s ok too, we all have to do the best we can with our situations! You could consider finding a car with a better fuel economy than your current ride, as fuel efficiency in your vehicles matters. If none of these options are possible, don’t worry; you can still put more of a focus on the other carbon offset options below!
The Future of Eating
If you look up how to reduce carbon footprints online, one of the most common options you’ll see listed is...becoming a vegan? At first, it can be hard to see the connection between your eating habits and the environment, but switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet is one of the more effective ways to cut down on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere!
This is primarily thanks to food production, as it’s estimated that food production makes up close to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, and around 14% of that comes from meat and dairy! Even if you only remove red meat from your diet, it can still make a relatively significant impact.
You might also consider eating local more often and being more conscientious when you’re at the grocery store! Food transportation and food waste are also contributors to our global carbon market, though at a lower rate than food production on the whole. It might not be much, but we might see some positive changes if the globe begins to switch to a vegan mindset.
Believe it or not, every purchase you make has some level of impact on the environment! Some purchases have an evident, direct impact on the environment, such as items wrapped in single-use plastics or single-use products themselves (K-cups, anyone?). However, these aren’t the only culprits, thanks to the world of eCommerce!
Anything that you buy online has a reasonably hefty carbon price tag once you factor everything that goes into it. For example, the factory that produces the item generates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. From the factory, that item is often transported to a warehouse on large trucks or planes, which certainly doesn’t help with emission reduction. The warehouse itself runs on electricity, which is most likely generated with some level of emissions, and even the original purchase (by you!) was made online, which requires electricity.
It might seem like we’re being dramatic, but all of that adds up! Whenever you can cut back on spending, you can also be reducing emissions left and right. To take it even one step further, you can use website extensions like EcoCart, which helps by offsetting the carbon emissions of your online purchases! For people looking to save money and the planet, this solution is a no-brainer.
The Next Steps
Even if you can’t fully offset your carbon footprint, any of the above steps to reduce it can go a long way towards real, tangible sustainability. At the same time, you can do more outside of your own carbon footprint as well! Maybe you could get involved in local communities by doing some tree planting or fighting for more complete climate change laws. Alternatively, you can spread awareness on climate change and continue to educate yourself!
Here at Manifest Commerce, we’re working to become the gold standard for sustainable eCommerce logistics! Through carbon offset projects, 100% sustainable packaging, and green warehousing solutions, we’re making the eCommerce supply chain green, from top to bottom!