This post may contain links to products from one or more of our advertisers/affiliates. We may receive a commission when you click on links to those products. Terms may apply to the offers listed on this page. See our Affiliate Disclosure page for an explanation. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
A carbon footprint refers to the amount (or emissions) of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) that certain activities release into the atmosphere. CO2 is produced by almost everything that we do including travel. However, it is damaging to the atmosphere and to the ozone layer, which helps to prevent UV radiation from the sun entering our atmosphere. Global warming is a problem today because of too many holes in the ozone caused by too much CO2. I have recently become very interested in purchasing carbon offsets for travel. It is important to respect and take care of our planet so that it is around for generations to come. The best part it does not have to be incredibly expensive to help.
How to calculate Carbon Footprint:
There are many different calculators available to calculate the amount of carbon emissions given off by certain activities. I have found a few online resources that I will be using in the future.
The first is Carbon Tanzania. This website allows you to calculate the amount of CO2 emissions given off based on your hotel stay. It also allows you to quantify home and personal vehicle emissions. However, for the purpose of this blog post I am focusing on travel. With the calculator it asks for the number of nights/guests and it tabulates the carbon emissions as well as an estimated amount of money required to offset those. For example, for two nights with two guests it calculates that 0.029 tonnes of CO2 emissions and it would cost one dollar to offset. While it gives you an option to buy the offsets, I will likely be using another website, discussed later.
The second is Terra Pass. This option allows for the calculation of carbon emissions from flights. It allows for several ways to calculate based on specific route, miles traveled, and average trip length. I chose specific trip and entered departure and arrival airports and chose one way or round trip. On the results page it gives the total number of emissions in lbs of CO2, about how much money to offset and how many trees needed to offset. For example, for a direct flight from Charlotte, NC (CLT) to Laguardia, NYC (LGA) it assesses about 601 lbs of CO2 emissions per person.
Purchasing Carbon Offsets for Travel:
The last organization is Carbon Fund. This one is a non-profit and it is used in many airlines’ carbon offsetting programs. This is the program that I will likely donate to. Whether I just make a donation or buy trees through this website for a dollar each may vary each time. This site does have general air travel offsets based strictly on miles flown. According to my math they are estimating about $0.004 per lb of CO2 emission.
If we take the flight from CLT to LGA for two people that would be 1,202 lbs of CO2 emissions. When we take that multiplied by $0.004 we get less than $5 ($4.80 to be exact) to offset the carbon emissions for two roundtrip economy flights from CLT to NYC. So for less than six dollars, carbon offsets can be purchased for two round trip tickets from CLT to NYC and two nights in a hotel room for two people.
It has become very affordable to help our planet and, unfortunately until a few days ago, I did not know that as a traveler I could purchase carbon offsets and that it would be so relatively cheap to do. Some airlines have started to offer the ability to purchase carbon offset at the time of booking. I hope this post shows other travelers that this is a great cause and worthy of their time and donation. Purchasing carbon offsets for travel is important which is why I am taking action and hope it inspires others to follow suit. We only have one Earth!