Updated: Jul 22, 2020
In the words of Cardi B "I get upset off, I turn Offset on!" Time to turn your offsetting switches on people! Like Cardi, you too can turn your offsetting skills on ;-)
Alright, alrighttt now. What I mean by offsetting has less to do with Migos and more to do with how we as travelers can counteract the carbon emission that is released during the trips we take. I know right now, people are only taking trips for essential travel *I hope* but we can still offset our trips that we've taken in retrospect and/or we can use the following info that I'm about to drop to become more informed about how we can offset for all the amazing future trips we can take once quarantine is over and it's much safer to do so :)
So first, some background info. To offset means to balance out the effect of something. What we are trying to balance out here is the release of carbon dioxide that is created when airplanes burn fuel in order to fly. So why is this excess carbon (or any other greenhouse gas for that matter) a bad thing and why is it import to offset? To understand this, let's have a mini science lesson. To the laboratory we go!!
If you know alla bout carbon emissions and would like to just learn more about offsetting, then please be my guest and scroll down to the "Offsetting" part of this post beneath the dotted line in pink. I'll always try to tell you what part you can skip if you already know the deal! Your time, is precious I know! Thank you for being here 😊
IMPROMPTU SCIENCE CLASS ABOUT GREENHOUSE GASES
First, here are the main types of greenhouse gases:
- Methane (CH4): used to create electricity and to heat up your home (popularmechanics.com)
- Nitrous oxide (N2O): produced naturally in soil, but produced by humans in the burning of fossil fuels and is found in fertilizer for farming and burning of biomass i.e. plant matter according (environment.gov.au)
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs): are man-made & used in your A/C, fridge, aerosols, fire extinguishers (eia-global.org)
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)* This is the one that we will be focusing on taaaah day! CO2 occurs naturally, but the problem is when there is an imbalance and TOO much of it in our environment. (climatekids.nasa.gov/greenhouse-effect)
According to Science.howstuffworks.com causes of a CO2 imbalance in our atmosphere:
- Burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil) for energy and electricity
- Release of CO2 from our modes of transportation (planes, cars, trains, etc)
- The building and construction industry (i.e. the production of steel and iron) causing too much heat
- Cutting down trees (deforestation) because there aren't enough flora to reabsorb the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Plants are supposed to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen in exchange, but with too much CO2 in the air and less trees, they just can't keep up. The ocean can also try to absorb the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, however as a side effect, it in turn will also warm up, which then effects ocean flora and fauna.
As these greenhouse gases increase, a bigger greenhouse gas aka water vapor increases. Water vapor traps the sun's heat within the earth's atmosphere, which ultimately is what can cause earth's temperature to rise AKA global warming. Dun dun DUUUUUN! 😫 (Skepticalscience.com)
So here is how offsetting comes into play. I first learned about this as I was sitting at San Diego International Airport trying to connect to free wifi (yes, guuurl! Can't be wasting data that I needed for my Austin, Texas trip you know what I'm sayin' haha). Once I was connected, a message popped up in Safari saying congrats, I've connected to free wifi AND asked if I would like to offset the carbon emission from my trip through a website called "The Good Traveler." I have been slowly making strides towards living a more sustainable lifestyle and thought omg how the hayl did they know??? I was intrigued to say the least and wanted to learn more.
All the airports that I would pass through that day (SAN, LAX and AUS) are all airport partners of the company The Good Traveler. I went onto the website and found that they calculate how much carbon is released during your flight based on the amount of miles traveled. The money raised is used to fund projects that stem from:
- a windmill farm that creates clean energy
- a landfill that traps methane to be used to create renewable energy
- a compost site
- habitat protection programs
- the funding of eco-friendly technology that is used to decrease the amount of time ships travel and thus decrease overall carbon dioxide release.
These are just some of the incredible projects that your offset purchases would be funding. As I was learning about all of this, I wondered if there was a way to limit carbon emission all together. According to CBS, JetBlue will be the first commercial airlines to use sustainable fuel for their flights. Their sustainable fuel is actually made up of 80% waste that is recycled y'all!! But, I also considered, what if you take a trip somewhere on an airline that doesn't use sustainable fuel or aren't able to fly JetBlue for whatever reason? Until other airlines start jumping on the sustainability train, what we as travelers can do is to offset the miles we travel and support these sustainable projects. The Good Traveler lists all of the projects that they are involved with including links to those individual project websites to see how you can get involved directly if you'd like to!
If there isn't a project located in your area, purchasing offsets is a great way that you can help out the cause from the comfort of your own home and computer screen. Let me break down the nifty offset calculator tool on The Good Traveler and how offsetting works on their website.
How to calculate your carbon emission per roundtrip flight:
Step 1: Visit The Good Traveler website ✈️
Step 2: Calculate how much carbon is emitted by inputting your departure airport to arrival airport. It will calculate the amount of offset(s) you would need to purchase.
My trip to Austin, Texas from San Diego, California had a stopover in Los Angeles on my way there and another stopover in Los Angeles on my way back. Thus I calculated the distance round trip from SAN to LAX and then LAX back to SAN. I only needed to purchase one offset.
The second leg of my trip was from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas. For round trip, I would need to buy 3 offsets.
In total, I would need to buy 4 offsets. But, get this! Guess how much one offset cost? Wait for it...
Is there anyone in the house who guessed two bucks?! Because I sure didn't! For traveling 2684 miles in the air, it would only cost me $8 (4 offsets x $2 a pop) total to offset my trip. Wowza.
$8 is only a micro fraction of the cost of my trip. That costs about one steak salad at Chipotle, less than a ~premium~ sushi roll at ya fav restaurant, shoot, even my birthday cake remix in a waffle cone love it size from Coldstone cost me more! Haha! What I'm trying to say here is that it cost way less than I realized to offset the carbon emission from my trip and I would like to continue offsetting for each of my future trips. I decided to set up an account with The Good Traveler because I thought it would be cool to keep track of the trips I've been able to offset overtime as well as to stay informed about the various sustainability projects happening around the nation. Realistically speaking, I want to be able to enjoy what I love (traveling), but to leave Mama Earth in a state where others can enjoy and appreciate her too! So have some fun and explore around on The Good Traveler website and see what they're all about. I began my Austin trip, knowing absolutely nada about offsetting and had a very minimal knowledge base of the types of sustainability projects out there. Coming back from that trip, I am now excited to become more involved and hopefully inspire some of you all as well 💚 Please share in the comments if you have any future trips that you hope to take post-quarantine that you plan on offsetting 😍👍🏼
Peace ✌🏼 & planet 🌎love 💚,