The concept of carbon offsetting has been floating around for a few years now. Perhaps you’ve been considering it for your business or as an individual, but you haven’t quite got there yet? Here's a ‘Better Beginner’s Guide to Everything you Need to Know about Carbon Offsetting’.
What is carbon offsetting and why is it a big deal?
Pretty much everything we do as humans (and businesses) produces carbon dioxide (CO2) – it’s literally as natural as breathing. But the use of fossil fuels means we are producing too much CO2and other greenhouse gases. These gases trap solar radiation and contribute to global climate change. Happily, it is possible to reduce our use of fossil fuels and therefore our carbon footprint, but what you can’t reduce, it is responsible business practice to offset. Firstly a business will need to calculate the size of its carbon footprint (which will require taking an inventory of all activities including flights, freight, waste, petrol consumption and even how many nights were spent in hotel!) and then invest in projects that act as carbon sinks by absorbing as much CO2 as the business generates. This is called carbon offsetting.
How does carbon offsetting work?
There are different ways to do this, but your business will likely need to partner with an organisation selling carbon credits.
FUN FACT: Staying in an AirBnB room has a far lower carbon footprint than a hotel room.
Wait… what’s a carbon credit? Trees are amazing. They take CO2 out of the atmosphere through a process called photosynthesis. You probably learned about this at high school and haven’t given another thought since! The amount of carbon sequestered can be traded in the form of carbon credits via an Emissions Trading Scheme and can be purchased by companies to offset their carbon emissions.
By conducting this analysis and taking an inventory of a business’s carbon emissions, a company will gain a much better understanding of which parts of their operations are having the most negative impact and therefore where to focus their efforts in becoming a more sustainable business.
Here are some tips for making it easy to go Carbon Neutral
- Keep detailed records of your shipping: departure and arrival ports, distances between ports, transport methods ... It will be easier to capture and review the information down the track.
- The same applies to travel. Record your routing, number of passengers and class of travel, as all of these factors contribute to your emissions.
- Ask the agency you’re going to use to offset your emissions for their carbon calculator. Then you can make a plan for what data you need to capture, and how.
- Be conscious of waste: set limits and keep track of whether you’re achieving them.
COOL THING: It may seem like a complex process, but it’s a lot like eating an elephant. Just take it one bite at a time and you’ll get there!