Here’s to CO2 Neutrality! – a mini CO2 offset review


With all the hype on CO2 offsetting, it’s a little tough to weed through all the options and whether or not it makes a difference at all. The burdgeoning CO2-O (CO2 offset) industry has yet to be of any proven benefit, although it seems to be both good intentioned and likely to be beneficial overall.

After installing our solar system and our biodiesel production reactor, we started down the CO2-O trail with Terrapass, offsetting the CO2 of our Honda Element and Volvo wagon and now our flights. Terrapass offers varying offsets depending on the size of your car or the length of your flights. Although we like Terrapass quite a bit, this is a for profit organization and does not give you any tax deduction for your investment. They seem to be fairly transparent and show what is done with your offset contribution, making you feel somewhat warm and fuzzy inside. They have a nice package with stickers for your car to let everyone know how envirosweet you are (we got a license plate frame too!) Cost for 2 cars for 1 year: $100
Next was carbonfund.org, which offsets ALL of your estimated CO2 production on a yearly basis (clothes, food, electronics, etc.) and is a non-profit, making the contributions tax-deductable (sweet!!!). They don’t currently offer flight offsets but their auto plan is cheaper and the “Individual Zero Carbon” option provides a VERY warm and fuzzy feeling. They also detail their offsetting projects and have recently updated their site. Cost for Individual Zero Carbonitude – $99/yr, Family plan – $396/yr
The latest and last carbon neutral effort is green energy credits. Although we have a 4.5 kW solar system, it has shade for part of the day and runs about 3.4 kW max, providing us with around $150/day worth of power! We run over this by $30-50/month and use energy from the grid and since PG&E is useless as far as consumer-level renewables, I needed to find another alternative. Green-E.org has a database of local green energy providers as well as national green energy credit vendors. I went with Nativenergy.com to purchase green energy certificates for the remainder of our use.

So, what is our CO2-O plan? Use our solar, brew our biodiesel, and keep trying to reduce our consumption. We’ll then probably be using carbonfund.org to offset our overall CO2 production, Terrapass for our flights (until carbonfund has a good flight offset plan), and nativenergy.com to purchase green energy certificates for the remainder of our power! This comes out to around $240/year for two people plus flights (29.95 to offset 20,000 miles) which is actually pretty reasonable if indeed the CO2-O concept proves to be effective!

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