Lots of companies, schools, cities, and other establishment are making big claims about becoming carbon neutral. First of all, what exactly does that mean? To be carbon neutral is to reduce your carbon footprint to zero by participating in activities that offset the carbon emissions you may have caused. Carbon emissions contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, which leads to human-induced climate change.
The beginning step is to use a carbon calculator, like the one at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html, to estimate how much carbon you are emitting. Where you can, try to reduce your emissions before committing to becoming carbon neutral. To be carbon neutral, you must offset the same amount of carbon that you are releasing into the atmosphere via your habits and activities. To do this, you can:
- Plant trees. A tree absorbs up to 1 ton of carbon during its lifetime. Even planting a garden or new grass where there is none will make a difference.
- Purchase carbon credits online. You can do this at www.carbonfund.org, and a number of other websites. This guarantees that, somewhere on the planet, your carbon emissions are being offset. Carbon credits are considered an income tax deductible donation for individuals.
- See websites like www.flyneutral.org to purchase carbon offsets for emissions related to air travel. Many airlines provide this service online and offer the option as you are purchasing your tickets.
Written by: Melissa Kullman, class of 2014