How do Carbon Offsets work?

We throw around the term ‘carbon offsets’ a lot here at EcoCart. Both our Chrome Extension and e-commerce app help reduce brands’ and customers’ carbon footprints by offsetting the carbon emissions created from purchases through supporting projects around the world that help to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. But how does all of that actually work?

Carbon offsets are one of many ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Everything creates emissions, but by utilizing carbon offsets, the carbon you emit can be counteracted in other ways. Carbon offsetting projects can also help support communities around the world that have to directly face the effects of climate change because they are strategically created in places that need it most. For example, driving your car to work every day creates carbon emissions, you could offset those emissions by donating to a forest protection project that prevents deforestation.

At their core, carbon offsets are small investments in projects that protect and strengthen forests, oceans, and other parts of our environment. Or, they could be entirely new projects that create sustainable energy and power local communities. However you offset your carbon footprint, you’re probably curious as to how carbon offsets really work.

How much do I offset?

Before you can invest in carbon offsets, you have to figure out how much carbon you want to offset. Use our carbon calculator to determine your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the combination of all the emissions you generate from your daily lifestyle. Anything from your daily commute to reading a book creates emissions, so these carbon calculators make the best estimate through evaluating the activities that produce the most emissions in households.

From here, you can see how much work you have to do. You don’t have to invest all of your money into carbon offsetting – making small changes in your daily habits to reduce your carbon footprint is the best way to prevent the carbon emissions from even being created. Consider your daily habits and how each contributes to your carbon emissions. However, it can be overwhelming to completely change your lifestyle and it’s not a realistic option for most. Carbon offsets are a practical and accessible way for you to reduce your carbon emissions.

EcoCart’s Carbon Calculator is a great way to get a better estimate of your carbon emissions. From there, you can offset your emissions from the last year, month, or any time period you choose. Your donation will go towards some of our projects like cookstoves in Myanmar and wind farms in Indonesia, all of which work to reduce global carbon emissions and help communities around the world.

Where do my donations go?

Many carbon offsetting organizations allow you to make periodic or one-time donations, but where does the money go? Carbon offset donations go directly to funding various projects that all work to offset carbon, albeit in different ways. Be sure you’re donating to projects that are verified by environmental organizations. They’ve already been planned out, tested, and approved by dozens of experts – so when you donate your money, you can rest knowing that these projects are guaranteed to work and make a difference.

To ensure that you are offsetting your carbon footprint, make sure to support verified organizations and projects! Organizations like VERRA, the Gold Standard, and the Climate Action Reserve are reputable and established groups that have carefully and thoroughly vetted thousands of projects from all types of organizations. All of our projects at EcoCart are vetted through the world’s major carbon standards (like these ones) and support the United Nations Goals for Sustainable Development!

Projects are oftentimes strategically placed in communities that need it most too. Many countries around the world have struggled with deforestation, access to clean water, or access to affordable energy. Verified projects target these communities and provide residents with the help they need, without disrupting their lives.

For example, EcoCart’s Cambodia Water Purification Project targets members in Khum Longvek, Cambodia. The project provides water filters to thousands of households so that they don’t have to boil their water over fires. The water filters are made locally, which also supports the makers economically and promotes growth in the region.

Even small donations to carbon offsetting projects can make a difference – on average, it only takes $3.30 to offset a ton of carbon. Anything you can contribute helps reduce our global greenhouse gases and ensure that we have a greener future ahead.

Carbon offsets are a great way to reduce your carbon emissions without changing up your life drastically. Carbon offsetting options are often very accessible and inexpensive – in fact, some companies make them free (like we do!). If you want to start offsetting your carbon emissions without an added cost, download the EcoCart Chrome extension! EcoCart is free to use and allows you to offset carbon emissions from your online purchase at thousands of retailers big and small. When you shop online, click on the big green ‘Make my order carbon neutral’ button to automatically offset the carbon footprint of your order by supporting one of our verified carbon offsetting projects, and have a positive impact on our planet.