Offset Your Carbon Footprint in 15 Minutes

There are many ways to help combat climate change, and in this post I will outline a few options based on your commitment level, time and available dollars. While offsetting your footprint is not nearly as good as reducing the overall carbon output, it is something that can be done very easily and quickly. There are three sites I have reviewed, and each offers different options that are appealing based on your interests.

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As mentioned before terrapass.com provides a calculator to determine your carbon footprint. Once you have assessed the impact, terrapass.com provides a set of prepacked options. You can simply buy offsets for $4.99 for every 1000 lbs of CO2. Simple and straight forward. They also offer renewable energy credits for $5.00 per MWh. Both these can be purchased as one-off purchase or as a monthly subscription. There are also some packaged options based on special events such as green wedding and eco-tourism. Finally, they highlight the projects where the funding is applied which cover farm power, wind power, water restoration, and landfill projects. With knowledge of your CO2 impact or energy consumption, this provides a quick easy way to purchase offsets, with visibility to projects you may care about.

The site I use is Carbonfund.org. They have pre-built packages that provide a range of choices, starting at $5 to offset the average American’s daily water use (2000 gallons!) right up to $16,320 for an individual lifetime offset (3.6 million lbs of CO2). Packages are also available by family size: individual, couple, family of 4, but also by the various ways we produce carbon: vehicles, air travel, home – which helps, as that is the way I am tackling the problem. For someone who wants something quick – pick a package. For others like myself, you can learn the impact of each area of your life determine ways to reduce your output. Carbonfund.org also outlines the certified carbon offset projects they invest in.

The third site I looked at is Cool Effect. They are more targeted at working with businesses, but offer option to make a donation, or offset your air travel. For air travel, they have a simple visual calculator that calculates your output base on the length of your flight in hours, whether it is one way or round trip, and how many trips. This is easier if you don’t know the miles you flew or the CO2 output from your flight. (To get the carbon footprint from flights and have a fantastic app to organize your travel use TripIt)

I hesitated about using the title for this post, as I don’t really want to promote people simply spending 15 minutes to buy some offsets, and then go on with their lives. Ideally this engages more people to help fight climate change and reduce their carbon footprints. However, getting started is the key, so doing anything is better than nothing.

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