As the need to address climate change becomes more urgent, it’s feeling increasingly trivial buying someone a candle for their birthday.
With one garbage truck of plastic being dumped into our oceans every single minute and over 40 billion tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere in 2019 alone, it’s understandable that people are wanting to reduce their impact and seek alternatives to material gifts (particularly when you stop and think about just how many times a gift goes unused or ends up being thrown away).
So what are the other options? You want to continue the tradition of celebrating with your friends and family and offering a gift, but you also don’t want to contribute to such alarming figures… Well if you’re looking for a sustainable gift that actually does good for the planet, look no further than carbon offsets.
‘Eh, come again? How can I give someone a carbon offset - isn’t that just something you select when booking a flight?’. That used to be the case but since becoming popular in the commercial marketplace, it’s now possible to buy carbon offsets (or carbon credits) directly from sellers like trace, either for yourself or as a gift to someone else. Throw a carbon-neutral party for a colleague, offset your friend’s birthday month… Whatever the occasion, carbon-offsetting is a fresh and meaningful take on the classic gift that won’t leave you or the recipient with any guilt!
What to know
That all sounds well and good but to the average consumer the world of carbon credits can actually be quite difficult to navigate, and with more and more companies hopping on board the sustainability train and taking advantage of unwitting consumers with green-washing tactics, it can be incredibly hard to distinguish the legitimate claims from the not-so. So how can you, as the consumer, know that the credit you’re buying is the real deal? What do you need to look out for?
In carbon terms, vintage refers to the year in which the emissions reductions occurred. You want to make sure that the credits you are buying come from projects that reduce emissions in the same year as the emissions you are offsetting (or at least within a two year timeframe).
Purchasing credits with third-party verification is a must as it ensures proper monitoring and enforcement of a project’s specifications (some companies have a bit of a dodgy history selling bad quality credits and making false claims). The two leading independent verification standards are Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard - a purchase with either of these stamps of approval is a promise that your money has been put to good use.
Type and location of projects
Carbon-offsetting is not just limited to tree-planting. In fact, there are a number of projects that work to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. There are those that provide clean water and cookstoves to developing countries, removing the need for unsustainable wood harvesting and burning. Or others attempting to minimise reliance on fossil fuels by harnessing wind and solar energy to power local electricity grids. Perhaps there is a cause that holds a special place in your heart, or you’d just like to support something closer to home… No matter the reason, you have the choice to pick a project that is important to you.
Additionality and leakage
Your offsets should be additional to any savings which might have happened anyway. They should also avoid leakage, meaning that emissions aren’t just shifted elsewhere but are in fact prevented. Let’s say you support a tree planting project which protects a large plot of land from a logging company. That’s great, but what if that company then buys the site right next door and cuts down all the trees? That’s leakage.
At Trace, we work hard to handpick the most effective and efficient projects that reduce CO2 pollution. All our projects are Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard too, so you can rest assured that your dollar is making a difference. We have a range of gift options and bespoke packages for you to choose from - check out our options here! Our personal favourite is gifting a carbon neutral month for just $30… It’s our responsibility to tread lightly on this Earth, which is why we love the idea of giving a meaningful and impactful gift like carbon offsets.