The Ultimate Guide to Carbon Offsetting
Nov 18 2021
What does carbon footprint mean?
Each time an activity is performed, there is a resulting amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. This is what’s known as a carbon footprint.
Everything has a carbon footprint
Everything has a carbon footprint. Carbon footprints are more frequently associated with activities like driving a car or flying in a plane, but many don’t realize that even the simplest everyday activities emit carbon. All of our daily activities contribute to carbon emissions and create our own individual carbon footprints. Even as you read this article, there is carbon being emitted—but fear not, we are here to help.
Now that we know what a carbon footprint is, how do we calculate it?
Accurately determining your carbon footprint can be complicated, but it’s not always as difficult as it might seem! Brush up on how activities in your life contribute to your carbon footprint in this article, How to calculate your carbon footprint, or use our handy carbon footprint calculator. Factors including your daily commute, how often you travel, and your meat consumption all contribute to your individual carbon footprint. Everyone’s carbon footprint is different, however, there are generally accepted principles around carbon emissions that make it easy to get an accurate estimate on your individual carbon footprint.
Why it’s important to reduce your carbon footprint
Throughout the years, our collective carbon footprint has increased. With the industrial revolution and our dependence on carbon-emitting power sources, the increase in the amount of fossil fuels burned, and increasing deforestation, carbon emissions have followed. Put simply, as more and more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, global warming occurs as a result.
When the Earth’s natural ways of mitigating carbon emissions, such as dense forests and the world’s oceans, are cut down, degraded, and polluted, it is even harder for the planet to keep up with the increased carbon emissions of its residents. All of this leads to climate change, marks of which include melting of polar ice caps, rising sea levels, the disturbance of animals’ natural habitats, extreme weather events, and a variety of other issues which can indirectly and directly affect life on Earth as we know it.
How to reduce your personal carbon footprint
After learning about carbon footprints and the impact carbon-emitting activities have on our environment, it’s important to work on carbon footprint reduction for the sake of the planet we all call home. When looking at our carbon footprint, it’s important for us as individuals to work on improving it, but it’s also incredibly important for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint too.
Reduce your business carbon footprint
If you own a business, you might not be aware of how big of a carbon footprint your business operations produce. Every aspect of your business contributes to carbon emissions, from manufacturing to shipping to the product itself, and how the product lives its useful life before eventual disposal. These repeated actions (manufacturing, packaging, shipping, etc.) can have a massive carbon footprint, significantly more than an individual’s, especially when you consider the size and scale of some brands. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to make your business more sustainable and decrease your carbon footprint.
Switch to sustainable packaging
Making the switch to sustainable packaging is a great way to reduce the amount of waste that comes from packaging orders. The amount of cardboard used in e-commerce shipment packaging every year is equal to over 1 billion trees—and that’s just one material. Switching to recycled cardboard, post-consumer waste, or more innovative packaging materials like mushrooms and seaweed is an alternative to single-use plastic shipping bags. To fill boxes and protect goods, repurposing newspapers, investing in biodegradable bubble wrap, and switching recycled paper are a few options.
Run on clean energy
Businesses can also look into switching to cleaner energy to run their storefronts, warehouses, and offices. Solar panels and wind energy are two options for companies that own their facilities or can work with their landlords to make the switch.
For smaller businesses, you can purchase renewable energy from wind farms. Many electricity companies allow you to purchase wind energy through power purchase agreements, which are contracts to buy renewable energy in specific quantities and prices that meet the needs of the purchaser.
For larger businesses, consider modifying your production process to incorporate renewable energy options. Running the various parts of your corporate and factory operations on renewable energy can help reduce the amount of emissions from supplying power through traditional fossil fuel sources.
Offset the carbon footprint of shipping
Shipping is a huge source of carbon emissions and an area brands can look at to effectively reduce their carbon footprints. Carbon offsetting with EcoCart is a great way for e-commerce businesses to easily reduce their carbon footprint when it comes to manufacturing and shipping their products. EcoCart is a free e-commerce plugin for companies to provide carbon neutral shipping to their customers in order to offset the carbon emissions generated from shipping and producing orders.
In addition to carbon offsetting through a solution like EcoCart, companies can offer slower shipping times and bundle orders from customers who place multiple orders in a certain time frame. Making orders as light as possible also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping orders.
Optimize your website
The internet is a surprising source of carbon emissions; the internet contributes 3.7% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is about equal to the amount of emissions generated by the entire airline industry. With many brands having an online store, the carbon footprint of your website may be greater than a basic, static website. Having an optimized website will really help to reduce the carbon footprint of your business.
Opting to use limited moving elements and ads helps reduce the amount of energy needed to power your website, and thus the amount of carbon-emitting when visitors view your site. Additionally, hosting your website with providers that use renewable energy also helps to reduce online carbon emissions. As an added benefit, the more optimized your website is, the better for SEO and the more organic traffic you’ll see.
Reduce your personal carbon footprint
As consumers, there are plenty of ways to reduce and offset your carbon footprint. It can be overwhelming when looking to be more sustainable and reduce your carbon footprint, but fortunately, there are tons of simple ways to reduce your everyday carbon footprint and get started helping the planet.
When looking to be more environmentally friendly in your daily life, looking for reusable options over disposable ones, eliminating single-use plastic, using reusable shopping bags at the grocery store, or going to zero waste grocery stores are all examples of ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Your home is a great place to look to reduce your personal carbon footprint as well. Here are some ways to make your home more eco-friendly. From switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and devices to changing the daily products you use at home—all are great options to reduce carbon emissions from the comfort of your home.
Carbon offsetting is also a useful way to reduce your carbon footprint, with relative ease. EcoCart is a free Chrome extension that makes your online orders carbon neutral. EcoCart calculates the carbon emissions from each individual order and offsets it by donating to verified carbon offsetting projects, all at no cost to the user. These projects actively reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere through various activities like preventing deforestation, providing clean drinking water, or building wind farms to help communities transition to renewable energy.
Everything you need to know about carbon offsets
Carbon offsets can be confusing to understand at first. What is a carbon offset? How does carbon offsetting work? Is carbon offsetting effective? Fortunately, we have the answers.
Carbon offset definition
Carbon offsets are a practical and effective way to reduce the effects of climate change by funding projects that actively reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Projects can include providing wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy, protecting forests from deforestation, or providing potable water to reduce reliance on wood-burning stoves. Carbon offsets ensure that the harmful effects of carbon-creating activities are negated by funding these types of projects, rendering the otherwise harmful activities “carbon neutral.” Utilizing carbon offsets is a practical way to work toward being carbon neutral.
What it means to be carbon neutral
Carbon neutrality refers to the concept of not producing any additional carbon, which is not realistic for most activities and operations, as everything emits some carbon dioxide. Carbon offsetting programs actively reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, by doing things like producing renewable energy or protecting forests from deforestation. By supporting and donating to these carbon offsets projects, you can prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere at the same rate that your activities—on an individual and business level—produce it.
How carbon offsetting works
Carbon offsetting works by first determining the amount of carbon needing to be offset. This is typically done through complex calculations that determine the amount of carbon emissions any given activity generates. If you’re interested in determining your personal carbon footprint, check out our calculator to determine your carbon emissions and get an idea of how much carbon you would need to offset your carbon footprint.
How you can support carbon offsetting
You can donate to and support carbon offsetting projects through companies like EcoCart. After using our calculator to get an idea of your carbon footprint, you can offset it immediately by donating to one of EcoCart’s certified carbon offsetting programs.
EcoCart’s Chrome extension is also a great way to support carbon offsetting projects. Through EcoCart for Chrome, you’ll be able to offset the carbon emissions created from shipping your online orders from over 10,000 retailers, at no additional cost! All you have to do is press a button when you’re on a website that offers carbon neutral shipping.
Carbon offsetting projects
What are carbon offsetting projects?
Carbon offsetting projects are the programs and initiatives that help us become carbon neutral. These projects work to reduce carbon emissions through various methods. There are several types of carbon offsetting projects. Projects also have a positive impact on the communities around them, while protecting the environment. Carbon offsetting programs allow groups and individuals to counteract their carbon footprint without having to spend too much money or change their lifestyles completely.
How carbon offset programs work
By donating to a carbon offset program, you can help support various projects that aid communities around the world, all while helping the environment and reducing global carbon emissions. You can choose to donate a specific amount to a carbon offset program to counteract your own carbon footprint, or however much you want—both will help make an impact on the planet.
Carbon offsetting verifications
How do you know if a carbon offsetting project is legitimate? When looking at carbon offsets, it is important to consider how these projects are vetted and verified. At EcoCart, we only support projects that are verified by the world’s major carbon standards. Organizations like Gold Standard, VERRA, American Carbon Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve are all established groups that rigorously evaluate how useful a project will be in the long term.
By supporting carbon offsetting programs regulated by verified carbon standards organizations, we know that they are being held to incredibly high standards in order to ensure their effectiveness and are being executed accordingly.
Each project also adheres to and supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These goals were created to outline a “better and more sustainable future for all.” Each goal targets a different challenge such as health, clean energy, climate change, and economic growth. By choosing projects around these goals, we can ensure that the carbon offsetting projects we support are benefitting the communities that need it most.
The impact of carbon offsetting projects
Carbon offsetting projects have a huge impact on the environment, but they also positively impact the communities that they are located in. At EcoCart, it’s important for our projects to always have aspects of community involvement and benefits. The projects we choose target vulnerable communities around the world and aid them in having healthier, safer, and better homes. Our carbon offsetting projects benefit neighboring communities and their nearby ecosystems in both the short and long term.
Types of carbon offsetting projects
There are a wide variety of carbon offsetting projects that all reduce carbon emissions while benefiting the environment and community around them. For EcoCart, we stress the importance of having a robust portfolio of carbon offsetting programs. Our variety of carbon offsetting programs helps support many communities and ecosystems, instead of limiting our efforts to one place. While all projects help reduce carbon emissions, each also supports a different part of our planet, whether it be the air, water, forest, or something else.
For example, in Cambodia, residents have to boil their water in order to make it potable. Our Cambodia Water Purification project provides affordable water filters to thousands of households so that they don’t have to burn wood to purify their water—a process that causes deforestation and emits carbon and pollutants into the air. The filters are also locally made, ensuring that the project helps the region economically for a long time by supporting local craftspeople and creating new jobs.
In Chad, our partners have been able to provide refugee families with solar cookstoves. These cookstoves reduce the risk of women and girls being put in danger by having to search for firewood outside of the safety of their camps. Because the region sees the sun for most of the year, the solar-powered cookstoves can be used for a majority of the year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the health and safety of these families at a critical time.
The Tri-City Forest project protects over 6,500 acres of wood in Massachusetts and captures over 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. By protecting this forest, the project has also been able to protect the nearby ecosystems and communities by acting as a water filter for surrounding areas, and ensuring that water doesn’t go to waste.
The Sidrap Wind Farm project in Indonesia has been able to power more than 70,000 homes in South Sulawesi through 30 wind turbines managed by locals in the region. By doing so, we’ve been able to reduce air pollution in the region by replacing fossil fuel as a source of energy which helps the world to fight climate change.
How to carbon offset
Now that we know all about what carbon offsets are and how they work, how can we actually utilize them to be carbon neutral?
Through EcoCart, both businesses and individuals can support carbon offsetting projects. EcoCart’s free e-commerce plugin allows businesses to help offset all of the carbon emissions from every order, production to shipping. Individuals can download the free EcoCart Chrome extension to offset the carbon emissions from shipping their orders at thousands of stores. Both of these options help to support EcoCart’s various carbon offsetting projects.
Carbon offsetting for businesses
When it comes to your business’s carbon footprint, each aspect of your supply chain contributes to it. Brands can work to calculate and determine their carbon footprint from various activities, and offset it where possible by supporting carbon offsetting projects. Brands can work with EcoCart to easily offset the carbon footprint of shipping their orders to customers. They can even go a step further and offset the carbon footprint of manufacturing their products.
It’s important for businesses to be conscious about their carbon footprint and use carbon offsets as a way to reduce their impact on the planet. Becoming carbon neutral by way of carbon offsetting is not only the right thing to do for the environment, but it’s also a smart business decision.
Brands like Simbly and Atoms utilize EcoCart to offset the carbon footprint of shipping on behalf of their customers. Brands that have implemented carbon neutral shipping have received a great response from customers who love the added feature. EcoCart makes it easy to understand and track your impact in a custom dashboard.
Carbon offsetting for individuals
After establishing what carbon offsetting is and how carbon offset programs work, you might be asking how you can utilize carbon offsetting to mitigate and reduce your carbon footprint? You can offset your carbon footprint directly through EcoCart by using our carbon footprint calculator.
EcoCart’s Chrome extension is another great (and free) way to offset the carbon footprint of your online shopping. Online shopping impacts climate change, as the entire process of e-commerce emits carbon and other pollutants into the atmosphere. By using EcoCart for Chrome, you can offset the carbon emissions from shipping your online purchases to your front door. EcoCart for Chrome is a great option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and don’t know where to start.
As an individual, you can also look to support brands and companies that are working to be carbon neutral and reduce their carbon footprint. Brands like APL, Siete Foods, Dose of Colors, Tribe Kelley, and Utz Snacks all work to offset their carbon footprint by way of supporting carbon offsetting programs and implementing sustainable business practices and initiatives.