Sustainability and climate change are increasingly important to today’s consumers, so much so that brands can no longer afford to put off sustainability initiatives. According to Forbes, 87% of customers would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity. Furthermore, 92% would be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues.
Businesses have grown to recognize this new reality, whether due to CSR initiatives or a desire to retain customers. As a response, they have rolled out initiatives to become more eco-friendly and reduce their carbon footprints. Carbon offsetting is one of the easiest ways to do this. Small businesses who often lack the fiscal and logistical ability to overhaul their supply chain, or completely phase out other carbon-emitting activities, can leverage carbon offsets to ameliorate their organization’s impact on the planet.
What is Carbon Offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a strategy used to reduce the negative effects of a specific carbon-emitting activity through funding projects and ventures designed to soak up the resultant emissions, give back to severely impacted communities, and even reduce future emissions.
Carbon offsetting is an acknowledgment that while a business may not be able to cut out certain activities entirely, (e.g. fossil fuels required to move goods from a warehouse to a regional post office) or revamp entire processes to reduce emissions, they can minimize the effects of those emissions and still help contribute to a more sustainable future. For example, shipping goods inevitably involves burning fossil fuels in transportation, and with the current state of innovation and supply chain technology, this is unavoidable. To compensate, a business can offset this by contributing a proportional amount of money to fund a project that helps reduce carbon emissions.
The cost of an offset is generally determined by measuring the amount of carbon emitted by a certain activity and comparing this measurement against the amount of carbon removed by the project being funded. A dollar value is assigned to the share of carbon the business or individual needs to pay to “cancel out” the emissions. The price tag on an offset can vary depending on the overall cost of the project being funded. For example, planting trees in a deforested part of Massachusetts is much cheaper than building a wind farm in Southern California. Thus, the cost of the offset would be less expensive regardless of the amount of carbon emitted by your activity.
Carbon Credits versus Carbon Offsets
Carbon credits are, in essence, a license that allows for the emittance of a specific amount of carbon over a period of time. Companies that keep their carbon output below that established limit can potentially sell their remaining credits to companies that may exceed their own limit, or just hold onto them for future use.
Carbon credits vary slightly from carbon offsetting, mainly since the goal of offsetting is to mitigate the effects of an activity that has already been undertaken. Credits aim to prevent carbon-emitting activities from taking place proactively, while a carbon offset is a retroactive tool for “canceling” the carbon produced from a specific activity. Additionally, carbon credits tend to target larger players in certain sectors (ex. manufacturing, food processing, etc.) rather than small businesses or individuals.
California leverages the carbon credits concept with its cap-and-trade program, which is committed to reducing greenhouse gases. The state provides a marketplace for large businesses and corporations to purchase carbon credits to offset the emissions of their activities. An example of someone who provides carbon credits to this marketplace is dairy farmers who install methane digesters on their farms. These digesters take the methane byproduct of cows and turn it into usable power. Corporations are able to buy carbon credits from these farmers that help continue their methane digestion in order to offset the carbon emissions their supply chain generates.
How EcoCart can Help Businesses Offset Carbon
EcoCart addresses two key issues small businesses face when implementing a carbon offsetting strategy: calculating the cost of offsetting and performing the due diligence research required when choosing projects for donation.
Determining the cost of an offset is tedious, which may scare smaller companies away. EcoCart’s proprietary algorithm takes care of the offset calculation and determines the carbon offset contribution needed for each individual purchase. Additionally, choosing a project to contribute to is often challenging and time-consuming.
A fair amount of due diligence needs to be done to choose projects to fund, and that is not something many businesses and individuals have the time and capability to undertake.
EcoCart enables businesses to become more sustainable by empowering their consumers to make their purchase carbon-neutral at checkout. EcoCart’s app can be integrated with ease into your Shopify store via the Shopify app store.
Customers will be prompted at checkout to offset the unique characteristics of their order, including the item(s) that they ordered, shipping distance, package weight, and more, with a nominal eco-shipping fee. If your business is interested in further involvement in sustainability, Shopify merchants can also opt to offset all orders on behalf of their customers, at no additional cost to the customer.
The benefits to your business are paramount—customers are likely to gain a sense of loyalty and are easily retained in the long run, benefiting both your business and the environment. Install EcoCart into your Shopify store today, and empower your customers to take their environmental impact into their own hands.