Carbon offsetting is a method for reducing the overall carbon cost of an activity by compensating through means such as planting trees, protecting forests, or by initiatives like delivering energy-efficient cooking stoves to communities in developing countries.
What is it?
Offsetting usually involves paying other organisations or specialists to organise a means of absorbing CO2 to compensate for your own emissions.
This practice is essential if businesses are to achieve carbon neutrality. It’s not always possible to simply avoid emissions, but this enables companies to engage with sustainability without changing all their processes, all at once.
There is controversy around carbon offsetting, and like a lot of other well intentioned approaches to the climate crisis, it is sometimes waylaid by opportunists utilising greenwashing to look like they’re having a greater beneficial impact than they are. So it’s important to be aware.
Meta (formerly Facebook) has reported their findings that Millennials are 1.3x more likely to be concerned about sustainability.1
Why should I care?
Greenwashing is a very poor idea, not only because it hurts environmental progress, but also because organisations that are found to be greenwashing suffer considerably due to the rise in passionate, and savvy, eco-conscious consumers. However, carbon-offsetting done honestly, is excellent for attracting these carbon-concerned consumers and helping to tip the purchase decision scale. Meta (formerly Facebook) has reported their findings that Millennials are 1.3x more likely to be concerned about sustainability. They also reported that if a brand can show it aligns with individual and collective values they have a greater chance of achieving longevity.
Trees take years, or even decades to mature. And when a mature tree is burnt down, it releases significant amount of carbon back into the atmosphere. So although planting trees is useful, it's more useful to keep mature trees in the ground. Always look for the most effective carbon off-setting techniques.
Jenny Kitchen, Chief Executive Officer
What can I do right now?
Organisations can offset carbon.
Usually organisations pay third party specialists to organise their carbon offsetting. Occasionally, larger organisations will organise it themselves. The most common ways these third parties offset carbon are through investing in forestry conservation projects, renewable energy projects and community projects that introduce or develop low-carbon solutions, and investing in projects to recycle waste to produce energy.Check out some providers
Be aware of greenwashing.
Greenwashing happens when a company, group or individual spends the majority of its resources and money on marketing itself as environmentally beneficial or neutral, then making sure they really are. These empty claims are found to be bogus, and with more expertise in the area than ever before, they’re found out faster every time. It's a deceitful and misleading practice, and doesn’t just damage the brand practising it, but also the rest of the movement as consumers become less trusting, and more fatigued, of eco-conscious claims.Read more about spotting greenwashing
- Five Sustainability Trends That Can Shape US Consumers’ Decisions in 2022 / Facebook IQ
- Four Types of Carbon Offset Projects / Energy Insights Council
- Greenwashing / ClientEarth
- *Yoyo Design’s Ecologi offsetting stats, from 14 July 2022 / Ecologi