Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Post Wherein I Demonstrate the Ease and Low Cost of Carbon Offsets for Air Travel

Me at the climate march last year. I'm putting my money
where my mouth is by buying carbon credits. It's easier and
cheaper than you think!
One of the promises I made in my upcoming book is to be transparent about my carbon footprint and do what I can do reduce it.  If I didn't travel so much by air, my carbon footprint would be very low. I drive an electric car, I live in a relatively efficient duplex, and I do a myriad of other activities to try to reduce carbon. However, the big bugaboo in my footprint is air travel. It significantly drives up my carbon footprint so that it is much higher than most Americans. Clearly, while I think I am green, I really am not based on my air travel behavior.

Some airline booking companies now allow you to purchase carbon credits. However, I wanted to provide information on how you can calculate your carbon impact by air travel and how you can find reasonable ways to mitigate the impact. When I wrote about carbon footprints in my upcoming book, Introduction to Sustainability, I promised readers that I would provide updates on how I am reducing my impacts. I'm keeping myself honest on this issue and will provide some regular updates on my carbon footprint.

Here's an example from a recent trip to Tampa.

I was able to calculate the one way carbon impact on my flight from New York City to Tampa on this site here. According to the site's calculator, my one way carbon output was 0.12 metric tons. Since I made a return trip, my total output was 0.24 metric tons.

I then needed to convert metric tons to pounds. It is a simple calculation. One metric ton equals 2204.62 pounds. Thus, my 0.24 metric tons is equivalent to 529 pounds of carbon.

Next, I needed to find an organization that allows one to purchase carbon credits. Companies sell carbon credits to individuals or industries to offset their carbon impacts. The funds go to support green energy and other carbon reduction strategies like reforestation. You can read about carbon credits here.

I decided to purchase my credits from TerraPass. This is not an endorsement. I found them through a simple Web search and verified that they were a reputable company that was in business for some time. The smallest amount of carbon offsets that I could purchase was 1000 pounds which cost a total of $5.95. Thus, for less than $6.00, I was able to offset the carbon I used in my flight and I have 471 carbon credits for my next flight.

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