Carbon offsets are becoming an increasingly popular way for individuals and businesses to participate in solutions to global warming. The basic idea of a carbon offset is to figure out your personal contribution level to the global warming problem from such activities as driving, flying, or home energy use. This contribution is called a “carbon footprint.” The term refers to carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas. You can balance out your carbon footprint by buying carbon offsets. Your purchase funds reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through projects such as wind farms, which produce clean energy that displaces energy from fossil fuels. By funding these reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, you balance out, or offset, your own impact by an equivalent amount. Carbon offsets help you take personal responsibility for the environmental consequences of your activities.
- Identify sources of carbon dioxide production in your daily life. For most people, one of main sources of carbon dioxide emissions is driving. Cars and trucks are responsible for 25% of all U.S. carbon emissions. Other sources of carbon emissions include air travel, household energy use, and products that are shipped long distances.
- Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions directly. Conservation is easier than you think, and often pays for itself through energy savings:
- Drive less, increase the fuel efficiency of your car, or consider living without a car altogether.
- Save on heating and electricity in your home. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Install better insulation and windows. If you’re feeling ambitious, use solar energy to heat your pool or make your own electricity.
- Look for locally grown foods by shopping at a farmers market.
- Calculate your