Imagine you could just break open your piggy bank and make up for all your past crimes against the environment.
You’re right, that would be ridiculous. The world doesn’t work that way and saving our beautiful planet from climate change is going to take a lot more than throwing money at it. But if you’d like to own up to your environmental boo-boos and help the world in the process, there is a solution. It’s called carbon offsetting.
Dozens of companies now let you calculate your carbon footprint and then donate to various environmental projects. These mainly focus on clean energy generation and future CO2 reductions.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding carbon offsetting projects. Let me be the first to say that this is not a solution or a way to absolve yourself of guilt. It’s a stepping stone toward becoming more eco-friendly but it’s only effective when combined with other responsible travel practices.
Getting started with carbon offsetting can seem daunting when you’re just getting started. There are so many websites claiming promising to turn your dollars, euros, pounds, pesos, rupees… ok, I’m done now… into trees and clean energy. But they’re not all equal.
To help you find the one for you, I’ve put together this list of the four best carbon offset companies on the market today. I’ve used data from this Tufts Climate Initiative study to help me choose, so rest assured this is (a little) more scientific than a BuzzFeed quiz.
Atmosfair is a German offset non-profit company focusing on offsetting air travel. They focus on prevention and reduction of carbon emissions, as well as their compensation.
“Compensation cannot solve the problem of climate change since it does nothing to change the actual source of CO2,” they write. “It is a necessary second-best solution as long as the best solution does not yet exist. Individual flight passengers are responsible for examining their actions prior to compensating emissions.”
Hailing from Australia, ClimateFriendly is a for-profit company that provides offsets to individuals and businesses.
Their mission is to help organisations save energy, reduce costs and build broader commercial value while addressing environmental and social impacts. They have a goal of abating 50m tonnes of CO2 emissions by the year 2020, which I’d love to see them meet!
Do I get to play favourites? I hope so, because I like MyClimate a lot. Their modern website is fun to use and easy to navigate. Their carbon footprint calculator can account for emissions caused by flying, but also driving a car, heating a house, cooking, working or celebrating.
There’s a slider at the bottom of the page detailing what they’ve achieved so far. From installing 69,000 efficient cook stoves in Kenya to creating 7,700 local jobs around the world, they have been able to help more than 4 million people so far.
Last but not least is NativeEnergy. This privately held Native American for-profit has worked with massive companies like eBay, Aveda or Ben & Jerry’s.
They help build Native American, farmer-owned and renewable energy projects. These include biogas energy, clean water initiatives and reforestation projects. They also invest in methane reduction on dairy farms, but if this is an issue you’re passionate about the best way to help is going vegan.
Do you carbon offset your flights? Why or why not? What do you think about the concept?