I hiked, biked and paddled many miles in 2014 in order to gather information for FloridaRambler.com. Of course, I try to leave as small an impact on the natural environment as possible.
But I also drove 3,400 miles in 2014 to get to those great places to explore. And I feel guilty about that contradiction: I spew carbon dioxide into the air, despoiling the very environment I am traveling to appreciate. We always hurt the ones we love, including Mother Earth.
So this year I decided to figure out how much carbon I’ve contributed in my Florida Rambler work and donate an amount of money to a nonprofit that will use it to offset that carbon use.
There are hundreds of carbon-usage calculators on the Internet and most are too complicated for this activity. Most want to help you figure your entire carbon footprint (calculators that start with “What kind of diet do you eat? Vegan? Vegetarian?) Most calculators don’t let you simply find the carbon impact of driving 3,400 miles in a car that gets 28 miles per gallon.
I tried and compared several calculators, however and, of course, they didn’t agree. Carbonfootprint.com said I used 1.01 metric tons. Renewablechoice.com said I produced 2,771 pounds of carbon.
Similarly, some sites suggested a donation of $10 per ton; others said $15 or $20.
I found the National Resource Defense Council’s background on carbon offsets very helpful. If the topic interests you, it’s a good place to start.
I decided the concensus was between one and two tons of carbon. My next challenge was finding a quality organization that actually uses money donated for carbon offsetting in an effective way.
After a little research, I read that the Sierra Club uses and recommends NativeEnergy, which funds several carbon-offset projects.
At NativeEnergy.com, I made a donation to Oka Trees of Hope, a reforestation project in Quebec. Using the estimate that I generated two tons of carbon on behalf of FloridaRambler.com, Native Energy suggested a $28 donation. Done.
So, do I feel less guilty? Nah.
It’s easy to offset the impact of a little driving. But what about all those airline flights I took in 2014 — and the rest of my typical American lifestyle?
No, a few more trees in Canada are just a start. But they are a start, I guess.
Here’s to a lower-carbon 2015!