Ed Begley used TerraPass on Living with Ed (which I love), so I started there. To calculate how much carbon dioxide my flight will produce, I entered where I was flying to and from (Oakland to Washington DC) and discovered that the round trip flight is 4,801 miles that produces "personal emissions" equaling 1,872 lbs of CO2.
To offset my flight, they suggested that I purchase the TerraPass Puddle Jumper for $9.95 that will balance out 2500 lbs of CO2 by investing my money into a project that reduces CO2 emissions, like a wind power, biomass or an industrial efficiency project.
You can buy carbon offsets for your car and home too. Based on our zip code, type of energy we use and how much energy we used (based on our gas and electric bill), it calculated that our home energy use emits 13,604 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to burning 695 gallons of gasoline. We can balance one year of emissions with a Home TerraPass for $69.86, but if we wash our clothes in cold water, turn off lights when we're not using them, replace three light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescents), and unplug chargers (i.e. cell phone, laptop, iPod) when we're not using them, we can reduce our emissions to 11,784 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, which can be offset for $59.88.
To ensure that they really are investing my money in CO2 reducing projects, TerraPass is audited by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), "the leading certification agency in the renewable energy market."
I bought the TerraPass Puddle Jumper for my trip, and am still thinking about the Home TerraPass.
A day or so after I'd purchased my offset, Co-op America's e-newsletter had a whole article with suggestions for how to choose a carbon offset company:
1. Reduce your impact first.You can read the full article here. Some of the carbon offsetting companies that they recommend are The Climate Trust, MyClimate, NativeEnergy and TerraPass. EcoBusinessLinks also has a survey of carbon offset providers you can check out.
2. Look for offsets that support specific projects.
3. Look for offsets that will cause carbon reductions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
4. Look for offsets whose GHG (greenhouse gas) reductions will happen on a clear timeframe.
5. Look for offset providers that ensure your offset can’t be re-sold.
6. Look for offset providers that are independently verified.
7. Avoid offsets based on tree-planting projects.
8. Avoid offsets that purchase “allowances” on a climate exchange.
I'm willing to pay $10 for a flight and maybe even $70 for our home's yearly energy use, but a part of me wonders how much difference it will make. What do you think? Do you think carbon offsetting will make a difference?
Photo Credit: airplane_aa by Jackie.