Consumer Carbon Offsets

You probably already know that many corporations and governments purchase carbon offsets (also known as carbon credits) to comply with limits on the total amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. But what you may not know is that you too can purchase carbon credits to offset your own carbon footprint.

Have you ever been sitting in traffic behind a car with a bumper sticker that said, “This car is carbon neutral” or “Powered by carbon offsets”? It doesn’t mean the car is powered by some new source of clean energy. It just means the owner purchased carbon credits to offset the carbon dioxide emitted by his or her car.

You can do the same thing by purchasing carbon offsets through sites such as Terrapass.com. Simply use their online calculator to determine how big of a carbon footprint you have. Then you can purchase credits to offset your own carbon emissions and help maintain a “carbon-neutral” lifestyle.

You may be a bit surprised by the size of your carbon footprint. Most people have no idea how much they use in their daily lives, most of which is emitted from the cars we drive and the energy we use to power our homes. Many people are shocked when they see the numbers but that’s a good thing because it usually encourages them to be more aware of their wasteful habits and to eliminate or at least reduce them.

Now before you go ahead and purchase any credits you’ll want to find out exactly where your money will be going. You want to be sure that your offset contributions are actually going to worthwhile programs that support clean energy projects and reduce green house gas emissions.

Depending on where you purchase your carbon offsets your contributions may go to any or all of the following:

1. Wind farm projects that generate electricity virtually carbon-free.
2. Farm projects that help capture and destroy methane gas.
3. Methane gas capture projects in our landfills.
4. Reforestation projects.

Some sites will even allow you to choose where your contribution is allocated. The most important thing is that your credits go to programs that help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and provide real long-term environmental benefits.