Dowser writer Steve Spillman offsets his carbon footprint and reports back
From the grassroots to the mainstream, a growing number of Americans are learning about ways to offset their carbon footprints for a more sustainable future. There’s even an entire cable channel dedicated to the movement. But for all the information and awareness, individualized solutions can be pretty confusing since there are dozens of independent retailers selling carbon-offset credits with varying degrees of information and transparency. The potential is there, but in execution the current process remains difficult to maneuver.
At least one innovative start-up, though, is endeavoring to make offsetting one’s carbon footprint easy, transparent, and efficient. ClimatePath, launched last year by entrepreneurs Dave Rochlin and Katy Foreman, offers a quick way for consumers and businesses alike to calculate their carbon footprints, choose transparently-funded offset projects from around the world, and purchase a “portfolio” of investment in those projects to match their carbon footprint.
When I first visited the site, I encountered lists of projects broken down by category from “forests” to “alternative energy” to “social innovation.” After I chose the projects to support, the site helped me calculate my carbon footprint. The calculation is pretty bare-bones, and they admit it: it only takes into account one’s vehicle, home, and air travel.
Since I live in a small apartment in New York City, and don’t ever drive or travel by airplane, the site estimated that my carbon footprint is only about three tons per year. That’s fantastic if true, but I have a feeling that my consumption of meats and other imported products probably doesn’t help. While the calculation is lacking, the site makes up for it with a community discussion forum that takes into account more complex problems with carbon offsets.
With a project designated and footprint calculated, I simply clicked “check out” and bought stock in the project I had chosen to offset my footprint. Since all of the projects are funded through an independent nonprofit, the offset purchase is tax deductible. It wasn’t too expensive, either — for under $50, I managed to purchase year-long credits for my (admittedly low) footprint.
For more about ClimatePath, founder Dave Rochlin will be speaking at the SOCAP conference, which takes place October 4-6, 2010 in San Francisco, CA.
SOCAP is hosting an interactive video press conference today, September 16, at 10 am PST with some of this year’s featured speakers. More information can be found here. Dowser is a media partner of SOCAP 2010.