A carbon offset is a "financial instrument representing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions." Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere as a result our intensive use of fossil fuels. This is bad. One means of doing good is by paying to balance or "offset" the equation, by funding projects that reduce our emissions of carbon (and other greenhouse gases). To learn how all this works, we suggest Planet Green's "How to Go Green: Carbon Offsets."
Top Tips for Greening Your Carbon Offsets
Maintain Perspective: Carbon offsets are not ultimately the solution. Not even close. The best way to create change is to, well, change. Offsetting bad habits with good ones is a start but carbon offsets are best seen as a last resort, a stop gap until the actual habit is mitigated.
Don't Shoulder All the Eco-Blame: Huge multi-national corporations ravage the earth every single second of every single day in search of their beloved profits. The average greenie can only be blamed for this because of his/her silent complicity. The real offenders are going unpunished by deflecting all the eco-blame to us. So, let's all do our part—but more importantly, let's not forget where the real eco-blame lies. If we want a cleaner planet, we have to hold the corporations accountable.
DIY: In your daily life, you are already offsetting like a good greenie. You compost, you collect rainwater in a rain barrel, you signed up for Community Supported Agriculture, you belong to the community garden, you plant trees, you drive less, you don't eat meat, and so on. Keep up this work while pointing the accusing finger of eco-blame on those who create the most damage.
Did You Know?
- The year the first carbon offset project was launched: 1989
- The amount of money invested in the market for carbon offsets, in 2006: $5 billion
- The United States is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, although the U.S. has only 4.5% of the world's population