It’s true: it is hard to live off the grid, no matter how tempting and eco-friendly it is. Unless you happen to live in just the right location, it can get quite costly just trying to gather the bare essentials of power. Then there’s the process of actually building or installing your alternative energy generators. And sometimes life just isn’t worth living unless the TV, radio, fan, computer and lights are all on at the same time. Americans emit roughly 25 tonnes of CO2 per year. Commuting to work and conserving are a good start, but that’s just a fraction compared to how much damage most are doing.
Enter carbon offsets – voluntary payments of a particular sum per tonne of carbon you emit. This is usually around $20, but costs will depend on the country where you live. It may be a “guilt” payment, but it helps to create awareness and tangibility of your own personal carbon footprint. When one purchases carbon offsets, the money goes directly toward the research and development of newer, better technology that will benefit everyone and help the environment. It’s like donating to a charity for Mother Nature.
The appeal of being “carbon neutral” is growing. Governments and organizations are beginning to take part. In Canada alone, Canadians paid to offset 93 million tonnes of CO2 last year- up from 12 million tonnes only 5 years ago back in 2005.
When choosing to purchase offsets, make sure you read up on the company first. You’ll want to make sure that they fund established organizations, or better yet, find a carbon offset company that develops its own research and technology. You don’t want to purchase tonnes of offsets, only to be throwing most of that money away on a sinking venture and their administrative fees.
Sites like Offsetters and CarbonZero have high-quality offset credits readily available on their site to purchase. It may seem dizzying to have to try and guess your tonnage, but don’t worry, carbon calculators consisting of a simple quiz will help in determining your CO2 emissions. Most even have “gift cards” that you can buy for a friend or family member to introduce them to the notion of offsetting. If you can’t go green, the next best alternative is to donate and help those who are doing so.