Where to Buy Carbon Offsets and Why You Should

As I started writing this post, I wondered why do we call them carbon offsets instead of greenhouse gas offsets?

Other than the fact carbon offset just sounds a lot better.

Carbon / Carbon Dioxide / CO2 is a greenhouse gas but it’s not the only greenhouse gas. It’s not even the most potent or strong greenhouse gas out there! But, it is the most prevalent one making up about 64% of the greenhouse gases released.

Where to Buy Carbon Offsets and Why You Should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #ecofriendly #zerowaste #travel

Greenhouse gasses trap heat in the atmosphere which is where we get the term “Global Warming.” Other greenhouse gases include Methane, CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), Nitrous Oxide, and Fluorinated gasses.

Fluorinated gasses for instance only make up about 1% of the greenhouse gases emitted, but are some of the biggest problems because some of these gases can last for thousands of years. They can trap anywhere from a few hundred to 23,000 times more heat than the same amount of CO2! (source)

Fluorinated gases come from leaking coolants in fridges and air conditioners are ranked as the number one way to fight climate change in one of my favorite books Drawdown.

So, what does this have to with buying carbon offsets? Not, much other than I just think it’s interesting.

Back to offsets, for me, it comes back down to everything we do has an impact. There’s no one perfect choice to be made but rather a series of choices ranging from ok to good, better, and best.

Each choice you make has a GHG (greenhouse gas) price tag associated with it, and a you can calculate all of these GHG price tags from events, flights, or by year and figure out your carbon footprint.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

how to calculate your carbon footprint:

The quiz at footprintcalculator.org is my favorite one. You can popover and plug-in the details of your life/last year and then it will calculate how high your carbon footprint is including how many Earth’s we’d need to survive if everyone lived like you.

Back when I lived in the tiny home, my carbon footprint was one earth. Which is great because we have one earth, but now that we moved to a slightly bigger place Justin and are at about 1.3 earths.

It can feel a little discouraging when you feel like you’re doing a really good job, but still can’t get seem to reach that one earth goal.

But, I don’t want you to be discouraged! Having that knowledge is good so you can improve certain aspects of your life.

And, sometimes these things just aren’t avoidable depending on where you are in life. My husband commutes to work. He uses public transit, which is a better option, but it still doesn’t erase his carbon footprint - it’s still there.

Thankfully, this is where carbon offsets come into play.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

what are carbon offsets:

I kind of want to start calling them GHG offsets, but I digress. Carbon offsets are a way to offset your carbon footprint.

Of course, the number one goal should be to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we’re responsible for and then offset what’s leftover.

This is a way of neutralizing your footprint by supporting organizations and projects that will remove (insert your desired amount) of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.

It’s kind of like going into a ceramic store and smashing one of the ceramic cups. Yeah, you probably shouldn’t have done it, but as long as you pay for it you’re even.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

what to look for when buying carbon offsets:

Carbon offset programs have often been criticized for being scams.

While you can certainly buy into a scam, I’m going to help you know what you should be looking for to avoid being scammed AND give you some of my recommendations for getting your offset on!

There’s transparency:

You know your gut reactions? Trust them. Typically a company that is doing good is transparent. You should be able to easily get the information that you’re looking for on a website.

They’re certified:

Check out Green-E which helps individuals figure out which offsetting programs are reliable, and The Climate Action Reserve which sets standards, rules, and protocols for offsetting projects.

The seller can prove it’s real:

Let’s say that you want to fund a project to support a landowner in the rainforest. The landowner will receive monetary compensation for leaving his trees standing tall.

The seller should be able to prove that this scenario is real. That there is a landowner in the rainforest who’s agreed to this and that it’s not some future hypothetical situation. Make sure that the person/group/organization they’re working with actually exists - right now.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

It’s verified and enforceable:

A third party should be able to verify what’s being said is actually true. A third party should be able to head to the landowner’s area to check on the trees and make sure it’s all going according to plan. If it’s not going to plan, then the third party can penalize the landowner.

It’s a permanent solution:

The third party also needs to verify that the solution is mostly permanent. (obviously sometimes a natural disaster might strike which is out of anyone’s control) But, on the whole it’s important to make sure the project is one that’s going to last.

For instance, if you choose to plant trees as part of your carbon offsetting program, (one I tend to select) it takes a tree 40 years to reach maturity and absorb 1 ton of carbon. If you’re planting trees in a forest that’s going to be cut down 10 years later, then it’s not an efficient carbon offset.

The offset must be additional:

What if the landowner never had any intention of cutting down his trees? Did you actually offset anything or just make a donation/gift to the landowner?

Beyond that is leakage. So, let’s say the landowner refuses to cut down his trees and passes on a deal with a logging company. If the logging company buys the plot of land next door, then your dollars shifted the deforestation rather than preventing it which is called leakage.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

where to buy you carbon offsets:

1. reformation:

This cool girl brand has been carbon neutral since 2015. They’ve partnered with Native Energy, which is focused on renewable energy projects, to bring carbon offsets straight to their e-commerce platform which I think is AMAZING.

Next time you’re shopping for a sustainable party dress you can offset your flight, year, or your zero waste wedding!

Check out their Carbon is Cancelled Campaign. They’ll even give you $100 in store credit if you switch your bill to wind energy.

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

2. conservation fund:

The Conservation Fund has been in business since 1985 and they have a very robust website with lots of different projects to choose from.

They have saved more than 8 million acres of land and water in all 50 states, and every dollar invested in their Revolving Fund goes directly to protecting land, over and over. By recycling these dollars, they have saved lands valued at more than $6.3 billion.

3. terrapass:

Terrapass works with several different types of projects across America. They work with farms to make the best use of animal waste, help create solar farms, and installing methane capture in landfills.

You can head to their project lists to find a project near you.

4. cool effect:

I’ve copied and pasted a section from their about page. Notice any of the verbiage?

“Every international carbon standard requires a project to provide and prove measurements based on peer-approved scientific methodologies.

“This documentation is reviewed by two independent Technical Advisory Committees. Cool Effect verifies, once more, the work of these Committees as well as validates the financial durability of the project.

This process guarantees projects that are scientifically and financially strong and ethically sound.

“It also guarantees that our projects are 100% additional—which means that the reduction in carbon emissions would not have happened under any other circumstances.”

Where to buy carbon offsets and why you should from www.goingzerowaste.com #carbonoffsets #zerowastetravel #zerowaste

5. arbor day foundation:

This is where I typically purchase my offsets.

I also like that they have a selection of cards you can buy and each one plants a tree! I like that I can pick out out which forest to plant them in. I especially like that they have a section for the forests that were damaged in the wildfires in California. Yay for helping my state!

6. us forest service

You can also go really old school and write a check and send it to the US Forest Service. While this isn’t technically an offset package, you’re still offsetting because you’re planting trees. They will be planted in protected areas so you know they’ll reach maturity!

I really hope that you’ve found this blog post helpful. I would love to know if you’ve offset your carbon footprint and what program you chose for it?

My Top 10 Favorite Zero Waste Swaps

Every Wednesday I publish a little YouTube video. I’ve decided I want to do a short (or long) blog post to accompany the video!

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly

This one is going to be a short run down of my 10 favorite zero waste swaps! If I decided to become super wasteful tomorrow, (which I won’t) but for the sake of this post we’ll pretend like I’m going to…. these are the 10 swaps I would NEVER give up.

Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure policy.

They have all made my life easier in some way!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

1. french press:

It should come as no surprise that I LOVE to make tea in my french press. I find that it works much better than using a tea ball or a reusable tea bag.

If you have a small kitchen, it’s important to have items that can perform multiple tasks. I like the french press because I can use it to make tea, coffee, or nut milk. Yes, your french press can strain your nut milk!

Get my tips for making almond milk and for making iced tea with loose leaf tea.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #frenchpress

2. bidet attachment:

The bidet attachment is one of both Justin and my favorite zero waste swaps. The National Resources Defense Council just released a report that Americans use almost 3 rolls of toilet paper a WEEK!

That’s so crazy to me. Justin and I don’t even go through a roll of toilet paper a week, and that’s thanks to our bidet attachment! We’ve had both a Brondell and a Tushy and both work great.

For more information on bidets check out this post Everything You Need to Know About Bidets.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #bidetattachment

3. thinx:

Thinx are my preferred zero waste menstrual product of choice! I love them because they feel just like wearing a regular pair of undies. When you’re feeling crummy and crampy, it’s nice to feel somewhat normal without wearing a bulky pad.

I am a #ThinxLeader which means if you’re interested in purchasing any Thinx you can get $10 off your order with this link.

Of course, there are several other zero waste options, check out this blog post How to Have a Zero Waste Period for more info.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #period #thinx

4. fountain pen:

Now, this swap came as a total surprise to me. I’m left-handed, and if you’re left-handed, you’ll understand the ink on pinky problem. I thought using a fountain pen would be a TRAGEDY. But, you hold the pen differently when you’re using a fountain pen vs. a ballpoint pen.

I have a Dryden that I’m really happy with and use Parker Ink.

Check out this post, if you’re looking for more zero waste office and school supplies.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #fountainpen

5. cloth napkins:

I’m surprised that cloth napkins are one of my favorite switches seeing how much I hate doing laundry, but I do love my cloth napkins.

These ones are especially dear to my heart because I hand stitched them. When I first started going zero waste I was on a super tight budget so I bought about a yard or two of fabric from the thrift store and stitched the napkins up.

Check out these tips for Going Zero Waste on a Budget.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #clothnapkins

6. bamboo toothbrush:

This was one of the first switches I made and it honestly made shopping for toothbrushes so much easier. I was always overwhelmed by the toothbrush options at the grocery store.

I could never remember the brand or type of toothbrush I used… so thanks to Brush with Bamboo I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Check out this post on DIY Toothpowder.

7. glass straw:

This switch really surprised me, but I really, really love drinking water from a straw. It helps me drink a lot more water. My favorite straw is the glass straw.

Check out this blog post if you’re wondering Which Reusable Straw is Best?

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #reusablestraw

8. glass snapware:

I LOVE my glass snapware. I like that it’s so versatile. You can buy food or even get zero waste takeout the containers. You can cook in them, freeze in them, microwave them, and of course, use them store leftovers.

They work so much better for me than just shoving everything in a mason jar. Check out this post if you’re looking for ways to Store Leftovers Without Plastic .

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #snapware

9. handkerchief:

The best thing about cloth handkerchiefs is that your nose doesn’t chafe like with paper. When you blow your nose with a paper tissue small pieces of paper can get up your nose causing you to sneeze.

Most of my handkerchiefs are vintage from my great-grandmother, ones that I’ve picked up from a garage sale for about .25 cents a piece, or bandanas!

10. bar of soap:

Last but not least, is a bar of soap. It’s such a simple swap to make from plastic body wash to a bar of soap. I think it looks so much nicer in the shower and it’s just really luxurious.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #soap

What’s one of your favorite zero swaps you’ve made?

5 Tips for Building a Zero Waste First Aid Kit

Recently, I’ve been thinking about zero waste first-aid kits. Is it possible to get away from plastic band-aids and tiny ketchup-sized packets of Neosporin?

This article is in no way shape or form a referendum on personal health. So, upfront, I want to say do whatever is best for your health: buy the medicine, take the plastic, do whatever you need to do.

But, trying to be more eco-friendly/plastic free in the personal health space is something I’ve been thinking about so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

5 tips for creating a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #firstaid

I enjoy using natural remedies like sipping ginger tea for tummy aches, taking elderberry syrup during cold season, making sure I eat lots of foods rich in probiotics for optimal gut health, and of course aiding my body during that time of the month.

I also strongly believe in modern medicine, going to the doctor, and taking antibiotics.

Wanted to get all of that out upfront, and hope that you might be a little bit inspired when it comes to your own first aid kit. Several of the links below are affiliate links for more information please see my disclosure policy.

1. storage:

First, decide on how you want to store the items you will include in your zero waste first aid kit.

Instead of purchasing something new, are there items you currently own that are not serving a purpose for you? Consider upcycling an old lunchbox, tupperware container, or sealable storage boxes.

Once you’ve picked out the perfect storage container, it’s time to fill it up! Below is a list of many items that are good substitutes for “traditional” first aid items sorted by ailment.

5 tips for building a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #firstaidkit #ecofriendly

2. minor cuts and scrapes:

Basic wound care consists of cleansing a wound thoroughly, letting it dry to air, applying antiseptic as needed and leaving open to air or wrapping with a clean, sterile dressing.

For minor skin wounds cleansing a wound with clean water and bar soap is just as effective as using alcohol wipes or other wound irrigations. Wash the wound for at least 15 seconds, rinse thoroughly, and let air dry.

Manuka honey makes a great alternative to antibacterial and antiseptic ointment, and has been shown to effectively keep wounds healthy and help them heal.

Consumer product companies have created a narrative around minor wound care for decades. Band-Aids, or disposable adhesive bandages are rarely, if ever, biodegradable and usually unnecessary.

If your cut continues to reopen or truly needs to be covered, consider using scraps of clean organic cotton or silk, which can either be composted or washed and sterilized and used again. You can keep the bandage in place with paper tape, stainless steel safety pin, or tying the fabric into a knot.

5 tips for building a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #firstaidkit #ecofriendly

3. burns:

For minor first-degree burns (pinkish that only affect the top layer of skin), run the burn under cold water to dissipate the heat and break the leaf of an aloe plant off and use the sap on the burn.

You can also make your own zero waste aloe gel at home. Aloe is cooling, moisturizing and protects the moisture barrier of the skin.


4. everyday aches, pains, and stings:

For achy muscles, soreness, cramps, and aches hot and cold therapy is a tried and true method for relief.

Reusable metal cold packs or ice bags offer convenience with no waste. In addition, many people are resorting to a standard hot water bottle for relief as well.

Any of these can be placed on the affected area for 30 minutes on and one hour off. Be sure to always place a barrier of some sort between your skin and the hot or cold therapy to minimize the risk of a burn.

In addition to hot and cold therapy, there is a significant amount of research showing CBD (cannabidiols) oils to be of great use for pain management.

Personally, I use a high potency CBD balm that comes in a metal tin. I find it has given me significant relief for tired, cramped legs, sore shoulders and neck after a long day of work or working out.

Rashes, stings and bug bites can be calmed in a variety of natural, waste-free ways.

For topical skin rashes a paste of oatmeal wrapped with organic cotton and secured with paper tape or a metal safety pin can relieve the itchiness and heat a rash can give off, while a paste of calamine or bentonite clay will dry out a poison ivy rash, pulling out the offending poison oil and drying out the rash so it can heal.

The sting and itchiness of bug bites can be calmed with a little apple cider vinegar. In addition, many of these ingredients can serve multiple purposes: zero waste deodorants, overnight oats, and more.

5 tips for building a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #firstaidkit #ecofriendly

5. preventative measures:

As you can probably guess, this is the part of the list that doesn’t live in your dedicated “zero waste first aid” container.

There is nothing better than not getting sick in the first place. And, while that’s not necessarily a reality 100% of the time, we can do our best to stay healthy in the first place.

Eating a diet that is full of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains (all of which easily come in package free options!) has been clinically shown to keep us strong, healthy, prevent certain types of cancers, and improve gut health, thereby improving immunity.

But, sometimes the stresses of life or traveling can wreak havoc on our bodies and we need a little extra help. A personal favorite low waste remedy of mine is elderberry syrup. It helps boost your natural immunity to viruses that cause the cold and flu.

There are many varieties available in health food stores, which also come in glass bottles or you can make your own from dried elderberries.

5 tips for creating a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #firstaid

If you are feeling mental and emotional stress herbs such as valerian, ashwagandha and rhodiola are very calming to your nervous system. They come in vegetarian capsules or also as loose leaf teas in the bulk section.

Insomnia can also be helped by drinking a homemade golden milk with nutmeg (aka “Ayurvedic ambien”). In addition to a healthy diet, supplements and herbs, there are many loose leaf teas that can help with everyday ailments.

Ginger tea helps with digestion and nausea, Smooth Move tea helps with constipation and bowel irregularity, and tulsi tea acts as a natural expectorant and cough suppressant.

Overall, take time to think about your regular health and first aid needs and include only what you need and can sustainably source and keep stocked.

This way you will be prepared for the minor emergencies and ailments that come your way while staying conscious and in line with the waste reduction principles implemented in the rest of your daily routines.

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GUEST POST: Beth Cruz is a registered nurse and freelance writer in New York City. She loves a good book, advocating for a zero-waste lifestyle, cuddling her rescue dog and watching true crime.