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ROAD & TRAVEL Environmentally Friendly: Carbon Offsets

by Jessica Howell

Offset your carbon emissions
and feel good with these easy ideas

You don’t have to own a hybrid to be interested in protecting the earth from dangerous greenhouse gases. For many of us, there is yet to be a hybrid created that’s practical for our lifestyle (check out RTM’s Green Buyer’s Guide for our favorites); fortunately, there are options out there for the fuel-hungry among us.

Carbon Offset Programs
Programs like MyClimate offer carbon offset services that allow users to calculate their personal carbon emissions – based on automotive transportation, flights, or even office energy consumption – and then neutralize their impact on climate change by purchasing credits toward certified eco-friendly programs. The money that you donate goes to local communities or businesses to help fund more environmentally friendly development options.

Similar sites include Carbon Fund, Native Energy, and TerraPass, each of which donates to projects that are third-party certified.

Many regional electric companies are now offering “green certificates” that are available for consumer purchase and work toward developing renewable energy. Check with your electric/gas service to see whether or not they offer similar solutions. If not, plead your case for a consumer program.

Traveling Green: Ecolodges
When traveling, consider ecolodge options, those that use green products, generate their own power and specialize in sustainable, responsible tourism. A listing of properties, from ocean resorts to rainforest retreats, can be found here or check our ROAD & TRAVEL’s Earth Tones section for a continuous update of ecolodge reviews and news.

On the Road
Road trip? An often overlooked option is a hybrid car rental. Check out EV Rental Cars, located in California (one Arizona location), for information on earth friendly electric-gasoline hybrids. Bio Beetle, a Maui-based car rental company, specializes in 100 percent biodiesel fueled vehicles. Find locations in Hawaii and California.

If you’ve already taken the plunge and switched to a hybrid, consider purchasing your auto insurance or road assistance with Better World Club, where hybrid-owners are offered discounts and gas-guzzlers are charged extra fees.

Stuck with the car you've got? You can still do your part by carpooling - an efficient way to save fuel, reduce carbon emissions and relieve traffic congestion. To find a network of carpoolers, check out NuRide, where you earn rewards from national retailers for sharing rides, no catch involved.

By taking action now, your donations have more impact than they will later. And if you don’t have the cash to give, go outside and plant a tree. By simply planting a tree on land that would be otherwise vacant, you’ll contribute to absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It doesn’t get much easier than that.