Obviously, we don’t believe the world should suddenly stop traveling to avoid air pollution. When done right, sustainable tourism can vastly improve local economies and create more open-minded and accepting communities worldwide. But still, what can we do?
One option is to go "carbon neutral" in which you can offset the environmental impact of your flight by purchasing carbon credits. The whole thing can become very complicated but the gist is this: for every metric ton of CO2 you "created" during your flight, you can purchase carbon credits from an organization (they may be nonprofit or for profit) which then reinvests your money toward green projects (therefore offsetting the impact of your flight). In many cases, we have little choice but to fly, so it’s great that options exist to at least turn a bad situation into a positive one.
The carbon neutral approach is not without controversy, however. The main problem is this: we can't be "paying" our way out of pollution forever. At some point, the act of flying itself must become sustainable and less damaging for the environment. However, while planes slowly but gradually become more fuel efficient, there are still things we, as everyday consumers, can do to minimize our negative impact and buying carbon offsets seems like the best option.
As I researched carbon offsetting, it became increasingly unclear what exactly I should do. In Canada alone, there are multiple organizations offering similar services: Offsetters, Less Emissions, Carbon Zero, ZeroFootPrint and many more. How do we know which one to go with? And then, which environmental projects should we invest in? For example, there are competing opinions on whether planting trees is an effective way to offset your CO2 emissions. To make things even more confusing, each organization charges a different amount per metric ton of CO2. I found options ranging from $50 to $300 per person for our flight!
One thing we want to do through this blog is to show how easy and simple tasks can help each of us gradually lead a sustainable lifestyle. I really don’t imagine the typical person will spend hours researching how to be carbon neutral. That’s why I’m a big fan of airlines that offer the carbon neutral option during checkout. It’s simple and less likely you’ll get lost in the sea of information available. Air Canada does it with ZeroFootPrint and WestJet as well with CarbonZero. Both seem to be good and reputable organizations. If the cost is prohibitive to you, most of those organizations also allow you to pay the amount of your choice. This might not entirely cover your carbon footprint for your flight, but any kind of investment into green projects is a step in the right direction.
As Canadians, we wanted to invest in local environmental projects so we chose ZeroFootPrint, a clean tech social enterprise from Toronto. They have been criticized in the past for putting too much emphasis on green projects related to tree planting, but they have since adjusted and now allow you to invest your money towards various projects in Canada related to sustainable forest, gas, organic waste, energy use, water and tire recycling. Since our particular airline didn’t offer the carbon offset option for our Philippines flight, I just went to ZeroFootPrint's Aircanada website and did my purchase. For the first time, our flight is carbon neutral!
Learning about carbon offsetting has definitely been enlightening. Gelaine and I are travellers at heart and after so many flights across the world, it’s rewarding to finally take positive action and make our flights to Philippines carbon neutral.
Have you ever tried to be carbon neutral? Tell us in the comments!
Subscribe for our newsletter to get exclusive offers, stories on our artisans, and learn how your purchase empowers. Plus, get 15% off your next order when you sign up!
Comments will be approved before showing up.