A Pinch of Knowledge: What can individuals do to encourage the appropriate use of carbon offsets?
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In the last installment of this blog series, let’s discuss how individual consumers can make a positive impact, both by reducing their carbon footprint and using offsets.
What Can an Individual Do?
As an individual, you may not feel like you have a lot of power in this area, but just like a business, you can work to reduce your carbon footprint first. Start by calculating your footprint with Salt. This way you’ll know where you’re starting and it can give you helpful tips in areas where you can improve.
Our Top Tips to Avoid Carbon at the Source:
- Eat vegan/vegetarian as much as possible
- Avoid buying fast fashion
- Shop at your local thrift store
- Use cold water to wash your clothes
- Hang clothes to dry
- Walk and bike whenever possible
- Unplug electronics when not in use
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs
- Compost food scraps
- Buy local and organic food whenever possible
- Recycle old electronics, printer ink cartridges, and batteries
- Choose renewable energy for your home if possible
- Choose taking a train or bus over driving or flying when possible
- Buy less!
It’s impossible to completely eliminate your carbon footprint. Just being alive, even if you do everything in your power to shrink your footprint, you create an impact. And sometimes you need to take a flight across the ocean and there isn’t another option. If you can’t eliminate it, just like a business, you can offset it with Salt.
While we’d love it if you read the other installments in this series, we know we’re all busy, so here’s the super short version: carbon credits are permission slips to pollute that a company buys, usually from the government. Carbon offsets represent the avoidance or removal of one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. Offsets are appropriate for ‘covering’ the 5-10% of emissions that are impossible to eliminate, only after a company plans to eliminate 90-95% of their emissions through decarbonization activities.
The final thing you can do to reduce your footprint brings together everything we’ve talked about so far in this series. Use what you’ve learned from this series to research the policies of brands you buy from. When you see a company with ‘net zero’ or ‘carbon neutral’ claims, look into their decarbonization efforts and goal setting first. If they are only using offsets, you know you’ve found some greenwashing. Hold that business accountable and avoid shopping there. Accountability can look like writing letters or emails to the business itself, asking hard questions on social media and more. If a business is working to decarbonize and uses offsets appropriately, continue to patronize them, praise them online, and tell your friends and family to support them, too. The best way to encourage companies to be better is by speaking with your shopping, support brands that support our planet!
If you only remember three things from this series, let it be these:
- Hold companies that overuse offsets accountable for their greenwashing and support those with strong green policies
- Support brands that are transparent and making an actual difference towards sustainability like our curated brand partners you can access in your Salt membership!
- Reduce your carbon footprint where you can and calculate and offset what you can’t with Salt!