Reduce your carbon footprint. Good for the earth, good for you.

My carbon footprint has been growing.

And there is something I (and you) can do to fix that.

Air travel lays down a heavy carbon footprintLike most people I am concerned about the health of our planet and the effects of human activity on the environment. While there is always room for improvement, I do what I can when at home. However with the dramatic increase in air travel that is a necessary part of teaching the Wingmaster Course, my carbon footprint has grown greatly.

Since I live on Maui, every time I travel to another city for a course I'm racking up 2300 miles just to reach the mainland. Unless I'm doing a training on the west coast, there's two flights involved. Every flight produces a huge amount of carbon emissions. For example, a flight from Maui to San Francisco produces .52 metric tons of CO2. That's the equivalent of 1,000 miles of driving my 2003 Ford Escape. That's about 6 weeks worth of driving just for the first leg of the departure flight. So for a trip to Washington DC (like I'm doing this Thursday) the total carbon emissions are 2.11 metric tons. More than 4,000 miles of driving. No matter what else I do that's positive for the environment, this one trip practically negates everything. And I still have 6 more trips this year. Yikes.

If air travel is necessary, can something be done about the carbon emissions?

I have no choice but to travel to do these trainings. It's obviously better for the environment for me to go to the students as opposed to all of them flying to me. But I don't like the negative impact on the environment my flights cause. There is a way for me, and for anyone who travels by air, to undo the damage flying causes. They're called carbon offsets. A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere.1

Carbon offsets from projects like building wind turbines, can reduce your carbon footprint.

The first step in using carbon offsets to reduce your carbon footprint is to know how much CO2 your travel is creating. An organization in the UK, simply called Carbon Footprint Ltd created a carbon footprint calculator that you gives you the carbon output for many different activities that cause CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. This tool will let you calculate how much carbon your driving, flying and household needs create.

Then go to Cool Effect to purchase carbon offsets.

Carbon Pollution Reduction | Cool EffectI was happy to find this website that has a multitude of projects you can invest in that reduce your carbon footprint. From wind turbines in Costa Rica, to rain forest conservation in Madagascar, to cookstoves in Peru and more, Cool Effect offers supports projects around the world that will have a lasting impact. I used them to offset all my driving in 2018, which came to over 5 metric tons of CO2.

Your airline may also have a carbon offset program. I primarily fly United and used their carbon offset program for all my flights last year. That was over 10.7 metric tons of CO2.

From Cool Effect: We pride ourselves on doing carbon correctly. Our scientists have independently vetted over 1,000 projects to find the ones you see on this site. We’ve included everything you might want to know—the price, the science, the challenges the project faces along with its benefits. We also routinely answer questions about these projects from scientists and non-scientists alike. We present all this information as clearly and transparently as possible.

I've got quite alot of carbon footprint to reduce.

Just from the three trips I've taken so far this year I need to purchase offsets of 5.25 metric tons. Then I have to add in another 5 tons from a year of driving. AND like I said, I have 6 more trips to the mainland to deal with. My plan is to contribute to Cool Effect quarterly, like we all do for taxes. And unlike taxes, this money is going toward something that will actually benefit the planet.

What about you? What's your carbon footprint?

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