Travel is a push-and-pull venture. On the one hand, you are a conscientious individual that explores the world with an open mind and open heart. On the other, even if you are living energy-neutral (or close to) in every other way, travelling by plane will have a drastic impact on your carbon footprint.
Carbon offsets are controversial. This is because the system tends to be abused — you can’t just buy neutrality. First, you must make every effort to reduce your impact and consumption. If you come to a place where purchasing carbon offsets is justified (i.e. you’ve cut down as much as possible without eliminating the essential activities and uses), then the following tips might come in handy.
1. Know your carbon footprint. Before purchasing offsets, it’s important to look at where you can first cut back. Are slower forms of travel possible? How do you use energy on a daily basis? Track your usage and use an online free calculator to get a rough estimate. Just like the three R’s, the first step is reduction.
2. Go for offsets that meet strong standards, like the CDM or The Gold Standard. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Sticking to trustworthy standards can cut back greatly on the background research necessary (though, making exceptions to support local, quality projects is highly justifiable).
3. Ensure that offsets are “additional,”: they would not have happened without this carbon finance. It’s also important that the company retires your offsets once purchased (i.e. they aren’t selling the same offsets multiple times).
4. Choose carbon offsets supporting renewable energy and energy-efficient products. This keeps us moving toward a more sustainable economy and more future options to lighten our dependence on non-renewable resources.
5. Consider vendor claims, ask questions, be informed. Seek independent information. Don’t make decisions without doing the appropriate research to ensure you are investing in high-quality carbon offsets.
For a more complete guide on purchasing offsets, visit: