Thursday, June 4, 2009


I stumbled across an organization called, where both businesses and individuals can buy CO2 offset credits. Their slogan: "Reduce what you can. Offset what you can't."

For example, for a tiny $5, you can offset carbon created by air travel up to 2,500 miles.

For a one day event with up to 250 people - say a wedding - it's a little more: $75. That covers up to 7.5 tons of CO2, which I guess they figure covers the average number of guests, including those who fly, hotel rooms, meals and ground transport. Or, use the event calculator, and plug in actual numbers - people, cars, plane and train trips, hotel rooms and meals. The calculator will spit out a number. For a fictitous party of 50, where I assumed about 15 out-of-towners, three rental cars, etc, the offset bill would be $49.

You can also calculate your annual personal CO2 use and purchase offset credits. I used their calculator, plugging in the square footage of my home, the type of car I own and the number of miles I drive annually, and was able to offset the carbon footprint for that part of my life, anyway, for a mere $72.35. That represents 4.506 tons for my home, and 2.729 tons for my Acura. I feel really good about that!

Where does your money go? Well, your dollars are "supporting" three types of projects that reduce CO2 emissions: renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation. Renewable energy supports clean energy development, such as wind, solar, and biomass. Energy Efficiency reduces existing energy use, much of which comes from coal, oil, and natural gas. Reforestation absorbs existing CO2 emissions, which helps to reduce the excess greenhouse gases that humans have added to the atmosphere. When you donate money, retires the offset equivilents produced by those projects, so that those offsets become unavailable to anyone in the future.

What I really, really, really (did I say "really"??) like about this is this: Not only does your donation zero out your personal carbon use, but it also purchases and RETIRES an offset so that it is off the market. What do I mean? Well, the carbon offset program works like this:
To cap carbon emissions, there is a set quantity of emissions allowed. Those who are emitting are given credits annually in the amount they are allowed to emit. If they emit less, they are free to sell the excess credits. Those who emit more than their determined share have to find additional credits to purchase. But if I'm understanding correctly, actually retires that credit forever. So that there is one less pollution credit available for polluters to buy. Forcing the amount of permissible pollution down every time someone purchases a credit through! WOO HOO!

Of course, this only makes sense if my one year's use results in a "forever" retiring of the credit. I'm trying to find out if that is what they mean...

One more thing: because you're not actually purchasing offset credits, but, rather, making a donation (to a nonprofit) that they use for reducing emissions through an assortment of projects, you can DEDUCT your entire contribution at tax time!
Anyway, by now you've probably figured out that you can find out more at!

Just Do It! I did.

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