Play the Carbon Offset Game

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Our sister site, Earth Moment, lets you shop all your favorite online retailers, and purchases carbon offsets on your behalf ? at no extra charge to you.

You’ve probably heard these guilt-inducing buzzwords by now:
carbon footprint and carbon offset. ‘What is this
miraculous means by which I can reduce my personal assault on
Planet Earth?’ you might be thinking. ‘Can I actually offset all
the carbon dioxide emissions I’m responsible for?’ you’re saying to
yourself. Well, it’s actually pretty easy and affordable. Take me
to your carbon offset leader!

A carbon offset is something you buy. It’s a voluntary
investment in an activity that leads to the reduction of
Earth-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. You can
choose to spend anywhere from $5 to $5 million on offsets, and the
project benefitting from your donation is usually up to you.

The most popular types of carbon offsets are those that plant
trees (reforestation), support activities that
help us use less fossil-fueled power (energy efficiency,
conservation
), or invest in power systems that don’t rely
on our dwindling fossil fuel supplies (renewable
energy
). Some offset programs also invest in technologies
that help prevent methane ? another potent nasty that heats up our
lives ? from entering the atmosphere (methane
capture
).

The following organizations sell carbon offsets directly to
consumers, and feature handy carbon calculators to help you
determine your environmental footprint. All are certified by an
independent agency that makes sure your dollars go where they
should. (Learn more about the
green-e certification
program.)

  • CarbonFund offers a range of pricing options to offset
    specific activities, such as driving or flying, or you can donate
    the dollar amount of your choosing. Approximately $5 offsets 1 ton
    of CO2. (For a frameof reference, you could prevent 1 ton of CO2 from entering the
    atmosphere by turning your thermostat down 2 degrees for four
    straight years.)
  • NativeEnergy invests in projects that benefit Native
    American communities and sustainable farmers. It costs about $12 to
    offset 1 ton of CO2.
  • TerraPass
    focuses on the CO2 created by travel. One neat feature is the
    ability to offset the amount emitted by your make and model of
    vehicle or the number of times you fly every year. It takes about
    $10 to offset a ton of CO2.
  • TheConservation Fund is dedicated to protecting America’s
    landscapes and waterways. They sell reforestation carbon offsets
    for about $5 per ton of CO2 emitted.

And here are a couple of other innovative ways to rack up carbon
offsets:

  • Earth
    Moment
    is a free portal that lets you shop at all your
    favorite online stores ? such as Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kayak
    or DirectTV ? and donates money to Carbon Fund every time you make
    a purchase. You pay nothing extra for your goods and services. Just
    make sure you log in to Earth Moment first, then browse for
    products or go to the store of your choosing.
    Click here to
    see a list of all the stores that have partnered with Earth Moment.
    This innovative e-commerce site is half owned by the publisher of
    Mother Earth News and Mother Earth Living.
  • The major travel Web sites ?
    Travelocity,
    Expedia and
    Orbitz ? allow you to purchase offsets for the amount
    of CO2 that will be created by the travel you book through them.
    They contract with The Conservation Fund, TerraPass and Carbon
    Fund, respectively.

Carbon offsets have proved somewhat controversial to hard-core
greenies. The idea of buying global warming indulgences just
doesn’t sit well with those who advocate lifestyle changes as the
answer to our climate catastrophe. But others argue that they are
an easy way for people to make a difference and help drive market
demand for green power and other industries that are working to
stem the tide of climate change before it’s too late. What do you
think? Are you enlightened? Get on your soapbox, vent, opine, or
just contribute rational thoughts to a positive dialogue by using
the comments section link to comment area below.