Here’s How You Can Offset Your Carbon Footprint For Just $20 Per Month
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
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You can probably offset your entire carbon footprint for just $20 per month. The process is easy, and you can simply set up a monthly plan and forget about it, so it takes no time. Here’s one way to do it; I’m sure there are others.
Cool Effect is a nonprofit that operates a crowdfunding site at CoolEffect.org for buying carbon offsets. Every project on the site not only offsets carbon but also does additional good.
Cool Effect CEO Marisa De Belloy joined me for a conversation about carbon offsets you can watch in the player at the top of this article.
Marisa de Belloy CREDIT: COOL EFFECT
She describes climate change as the “issue of our time.”
The first step in offsetting your carbon is to determine your impact. The average American emits 16.6 metric tons of carbon per year. If you want to get into the weeds, you can use this calculator or any of the variety of calculators available online. It may be easier to simply guestimate how your footprint compares by weighing things like the size of your home, the car(s) you drive, whether you have solar panels on the roof, etc.
Be sure to multiply the 16.6 ton estimate by the number of people in your household for whom you want to offset the carbon. Then divide by 12 to get the monthly number of tons.
Then, visit CoolEffect.org to pick a carbon offset project that fits your other goals. The site features projects around the world with a variety of ancillary social benefits, often helping underserved or vulnerable populations to improve their financial situation or their health—or both—all while reducing carbon.
Once you pick the project, you can sign up for a monthly donation in any amount you choose. Each project has a different price per on but the average on the site is about $7.83 per ton as of this writing. A biogas digester and clean cookstove project in China has a cost of just $5.27 per ton and a Brazilian forest reserve offers a cost per ton of just $3.30.
At $3.30 per on, you can offset the average American carbon emissions for a family of four for just $18.26 per month!
16.6 ÷ 12 * 4 * $3.30 = $18.26
As cheap and easy as that is, you shouldn’t think of carbon offsets as a license to emit all the carbon you want. “Everybody should be doing everything they possibly can to fight climate change,” de Belloy says.
“[Carbon offsets] are a way—a simple, affordable way—to make yourself carbon neutral and to just basically do more to fight climate change right now and today. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be doing the other stuff. You absolutely should,” she says.
Lately, Greta Thunberg—the 16-year-old Swedish girl who leads weekly climate strikes around the world—has brought attention to the impact of air travel, even creating a phenomenon known as “flight shame.”
In response, recognizing that travel isn’t often optional and sailing aboard solar-powered ships as Thunberg has famously done isn’t an option for most of us, Cool Effect has created a travel offset tool where you can calculate the carbon emissions associated with your trip. Typically, the carbon offset is less than 1% of the ticket price.
One worry some express is that the carbon offsets anticipate may not actually happen even though the carbon emissions absolutely do. Cool Effect carefully only considers projects for the site after they have been certified by a qualified third-party certification. So the project owner makes an estimate, and then has that estimate verified by a third party. Finally, Cool Effect does its own analysis.
“We do our own very detailed due diligence with our own team to make sure that what these projects say they’re doing is actually being done,” de Belloy says. This means that the carbon offset is calculated three times by different organizations to be sure your donation drives carbon offsets as intended.
Boy Meets Girl campaign “Thou Shalt Stay Cool” for Cool Effect CREDIT: SOPHIE ELGORT
Stacy Igel, founder and creative director of Boy Meets Girl, has launched a campaign to support Cool Effect on the site, selling t-shirts with the message “Thou Shalt Stay Cool.”
“Boy Meets Girl has always been at the forefront of impact fashion and using its label to support global issues,” Igel says. “Cool Effect aligns with Boy Meets Girl’s desire to save the planet in an actionable and approachable way.”
Now you know how you can easily and affordably be carbon neutral, what’s stopping you?
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