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Ways to Offset your Carbon Footprint

The average US citizen creates about 16,000 pounds - or 8 tons - of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year through their car driving, plane flying, home heating, and other activities. That is a lot of carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere! How can a person then offset that carbon dioxide, to live a carbon neutral life?

Certainly the first step is to do everything you can to reduce the carbon dioxide you create in the first place. Drive a more fuel efficient car. Insulate your home so you don't burn as much oil to heat it. Turn off lights so you're not using as much electricity and therefore requiring your electricity provider to burn coal. However, let's say you've pared down your lifestyle as much as you can and you're still left with 8 tons of CO2 being generated. Is there a way to offset that?

Plant a Tree
The average oak or maple tree will absorb in about 1 ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. Trees, as you might remember from biology class, suck in carbon dioxide, mix it up with sunshine, and release oxygen. Trees are nature's air scrubbers! If you contact one of the many tree planting eco-organizations and donate money to plant 8 trees in a year, you've balanced out the 8 tons of carbon dioxide you created for that year. Of course if you manage to create more than 8 tons in a year you might want to plant a few more trees!

Not only does your tree keep the air clean, but it also provides a habitat for birds and other animals. It's a win-win.

For example, the Nature Conservancy has launched a phenomenal effort to Plant a Billion Trees!

Buy an Offset
There are companies out there who specialize in bartering offsets. In essence when you pay them money, they promise to spend that money in a way that supports wind energy, water energy, or other renewable energy sources. That helps to ensure that going forward more people will have the ability to have clean energy options that do not create carbon dioxide problems.

So let's give an example. Let's say your use of electricity currently creates 2 tons of carbon dioxide each year, because your electricity plant is burning coal to create your electricity. So as part of your offset plan, you donate money to a wind farm project in your area. When the wind farm project is complete, your power station can now use the energy from the wind farm, instead of burning coal, and your electricity usage now does not create as much carbon dioxide.

Green Living and Carbon Footprints
BellaOnline Green Living Carbon Footprints main page
How to Calculate your Carbon Footprint
Ways to Offset your Carbon Footprint
Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Carbon Footprint Statistics
Determining the Carbon Footprint of a Webserver
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