1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

February 1, 2008

:032 Do-it-yourself Carbon Credits

Suggested Review – :031

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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1:5:10:032 Tip: A number of organizations have begun offering Carbon Offset Credits as a way to buy ones way to a zero carbon footprint. These programs have received both praise and criticism. Instead of paying someone else to offset your carbon use, why not do it yourself. Many of the 1:5:10:365 Tips covered in the first 30 days will help substantially reduce your carbon emissions. At least for now – until you can say that you have exhausted all the things you can do yourself, why not use those dollars that would be spent to purchase carbon offset credits to reduce your own carbon emissions. The money you have spent so far in Tips :021 Autopower strips and :028 Compact Fluorescent Lights should work well. Then use those calculated savings you tallied in :031 to invest in additional carbon reduction. You may want to start saving it for a big ticket item like a hybrid car or solar power system for your home. More offset ideas will follow in the weeks to come.

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Additional Information

The Nature Conservancy has a carbon calculator at their web-site that is user friendly. I also like that they aren’t trying to sell me carbon offset credits.

 http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/

Various estimates for carbon offset costs range from $4 to $14 per ton. If a carbon reduction investment were 100% effective in reducing green house gases then $4 per ton would probably be a pretty good number. An example of this would be purchasing solar power panels. On the other hand CFL’s reduce energy and therefore carbon production by about 75% so there would be a higher cost to offset. For my purposes I’ve decided to use $10 per ton as my carbon offset to avoid having to do a lot of calculations. Using the tally from yesterday, that means my $40 investment in a smart powerstrip and my $35 in CFLs works out to $75 or a 7.5 ton carbon reduction. The thinking is somewhat fuzzy – but to me it is certainly a lot clearer than purchased credits.

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