Can Offsetting Become as Common as Recycling?

Do you remember why you first started recycling all those years ago?  The environmental activities that the vast majority of us partake in daily, whether it is recycling, conserving water or composting, have become second nature and occur at an almost subconscious level.

Have you ever offset your carbon emissions? Many readers have not. Conserving our environment by combating climate change through minimizing and offsetting our carbon emissions is still unfamiliar territory for many.   The everyday actions required to save our environment from climate change are not yet common practice.  As the effects of high carbon dioxide levels on our environment are experienced and discussed more widely, so too will the actions required to tackle the problem and soon these actions will become second nature.

While many people have taken steps to minimize their carbon emissions, through buying energy efficient appliances, fitting low wattage bulbs or purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle, we need to take our actions one step further.

The next step is offsetting the emissions that we are unable to reduce.  Taking a commercial flight or driving to work might be unavoidable so you can offset the emissions that these activities generate by purchasing carbon offsets.

One question we are regularly asked is “Don’t you have to be a large corporation to afford offsetting?”  The answer is no.

Can I Buy Carbon Offsets?

carbon-tanzania-offsetter-chartYou don’t have to be Sainsbury’s or Unilever to offset and we have the statistics to prove it.  Considering we are a business located in a country of great natural beauty, brimming with wildlife it may be unsurprising that the majority of companies who purchase our offsets are in the tourism industry.  These companies want to ensure that their clients’ safaris leave as small a footprint as possible.  However, it may surprise you that it isn’t only international operators or large hotels that offset, although some do, such as National Geographic Expeditions.  It is owner/operator businesses both large and small; tour operators, camps, lodges and even an aviation company.

Encouragingly, 6% of all of our offsets are sold to individuals who are not part of an organization but simply wish to reduce their personal carbon impact, a sign that the public are serious about taking action.  Some people choose to offset their commercial flights which is one aspect of life that can be hard to avoid.  Others choose to offset the annual emissions from their personal vehicle or their home.

A number of non-profit organisations also purchase our offsets as well as a school and various corporations.

Are Carbon Offsets Expensive?

Offsetting doesn’t have to be expensive, particularly if you first take steps to minimize your carbon emissions.  Let’s look at the example of offsetting emissions from a mid-sized car for a year.  Based on average driving distances the price to offset a vehicle’s annual emissions will cost about the price of a tank of fuel.  If you are considering offsetting the emissions from a long haul flight you may be surprised to know that this costs about the same as one night accommodation.

How do I Offset my Carbon Emissions?

Calculating the carbon emissions from various activities was once a daunting task. Today’s conservationists have made it much easier by providing tools which measures various emission sources.  You can also contact an expert to help measure your emissions and suggest methods to reduce those emissions before offsetting.

What Offsets Should I Buy?

Before purchasing carbon offsets, check for third party certification to ensure the offsets are both real and measured.  Look for offsets from a project that prevents emissions from being released from another source such as deforestation and check to see if they provide additional benefits such as supporting community welfare or protecting an endangered species.

The forest carbon offsets we generate at Carbon Tanzania aren’t just good for the global environment, they also conserve Tanzania’s threatened forests and support the indigenous communities who depend on them.


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