9 Best Carbon Offset Programs for When You Can’t Reduce Emissions
We should always be doing our best to reduce our own carbon emissions. But sometimes that’s simply not possible. So what can we do? That’s when carbon offset programs can help!
If you’re not familiar with carbon offsets and how these programs work, this guide can help. You’ll learn more about carbon offsets, how carbon offset programs work, and the best carbon offset programs currently available.
With this information, you can counterbalance your greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce your own impact on the environment.
The Top Carbon Offset Programs
- Best Overall: Tentree
- Best for Travel and Tourism: Sustainable Travel International
- Best for Air Travel: Atmosfair
- Best for Businesses: Paying.Green
- Best for Events: Terrapass
- Best for Homes: Myclimate
- Best for Commuters: Clear
- Best Online Calculator: Native Energy
- Best for eCommerce: Carbon Checkout
What Are Carbon Offsets?
A carbon offset is an activity that helps reduce emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases to make up for emissions made elsewhere. In simple terms, when you purchase a carbon offset, you pay someone else to invest in projects that reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to cancel out your own carbon emissions.
Why Should You Buy Carbon Offsets?
Every day, you engage in activities that leave behind a carbon footprint. There are certain things we can do to reduce or eliminate this carbon footprint.
For example, riding a bicycle or walking is a fantastic way to prevent emissions from driving a car. Making the switch to a vegetarian diet has a significant impact on the carbon footprint of our food system.
However, some trips are just too far for walking or biking, so we have to take a car. Some people just aren’t open to vegetarianism. Plus, other things, like purchasing certain goods from major manufacturers, is simply unavoidable to survive.
When you purchase credits in a carbon offset program, you’re investing in carbon reduction and clean energy projects in other parts of the world. The goal is for this environmental activity to offset your own carbon footprint and help you become as close to carbon neutral as possible.
Carbon offset programs are available to both corporations and individuals. For the most part, they’re fairly simple.
For example, many programs will plant trees for reforestation efforts or let you in invest in methane capture projects at landfills.
With many offset options costing just a few dollars a month, they’re an easy and affordable way for us to do more to help fight the climate crisis.
The Best Carbon Offset Programs
Now that you know more about how carbon offset programs work, you’re likely ready to invest in one yourself. However, you want to make sure choose a reputable company so you know your money goes to a real project that’s making a difference.
That’s why we put together this list of the top reputable carbon offset programs. Take a look at the packages each one offers so you can decide which one is right for you.
1. Best Overall Carbon Offset Program
You might be familiar with tentree because of their stylish and sustainable clothing that plants 10 trees for every purchase. However, did you know they also have their own program to help you offset your environmental footprint?
We chose tentree’s Climate+ program as the best overall because it’s affordable, amazingly easy to use, and it has so many packages available that you’re sure to find one to suit your needs.
For each package purchased, tentree plants a certain number of trees to help you offset your carbon footprint, provide jobs, and rehabilitate ecosystems.
They primarily plant mangrove trees in Indonesia and Madagascar because mangroves are one of the most efficient carbon sequestering trees in the world. The trees are planted using veritree, a planting verification software that tracks and verifies planting efforts so you can ensure your money is actually being used to plant trees.
Additionally, the planting sites are monitored and protected to make certain the trees survive and have a long-lasting positive impact on the environment.
2. Best Carbon Offset Program for Travel and Tourism
Traveling is a double-edged sword. While it opens our minds to new experiences and cultures and helps us appreciate the beauty of the world we’re trying to save, it’s also terrible for the environment.
Fortunately, there are plenty of steps we can take to make traveling more eco-friendly, including purchasing carbon offsets.
Not only is Sustainable Travel International committed to protecting the world’s most vulnerable travel destinations and the people who live there, but it also offers a carbon offset program that lets you compensate for the carbon dioxide and other emissions you produce by traveling.
Simply use the calculator on their website to determine the carbon footprint of your flight, car, or boat travel. When you offset your carbon footprint through Sustainable Travel International, your money will go toward third-party verified projects that help fight climate change.
Some of these projects include building wind farms in the United States and Honduras, supplying clean water filters in Cambodia, and planting trees around the world.
Not only are all of their projects vetted to ensure they’re scientifically proven to help mitigate climate change by reducing carbon pollution, but they’re also selected because they go beyond just CO2 reduction, such as helping local communities or protecting biodiversity.
3. Best Carbon Offset Program for Air Travel
If you do a lot of flying and you’re looking for a program specifically designed for air travel, check out atmosfair. Based in Germany, the goals of this non-profit organization are to promote sustainable travel, offset carbon emissions, and help the planet transition to long-term renewable energy solutions.
They do this with a variety of carbon offsetting projects around the world, including hydropower, solar energy, biogas, efficient cook stoves, and environmental education.
If you’re interested in making your travels more eco-friendly, atmosfair also works with climate-friendly tour operators and travel agencies so you can have a sustainable trip no matter where you decide to go.
4. Best Carbon Offset Program for Businesses
Paying.Green offers businesses a variety of projects that have been verified under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce carbon from the atmosphere.
One of these projects includes the Cook Stove Project in Uganda, which distributes improved cook stoves to help reduce the number of trees cut down for firewood. Other activities include solar projects in India, hydropower projects in Chile, and geothermal projects in El Salvador.
Paying.Green was founded in 2020 to help businesses take positive steps to reduce their impact on the environment. Their Carbon 360 program is an ideal way for businesses of all sizes to conveniently and affordably decarbonize and transition to Carbon Neutral or Net Zero status.
However, unlike other options on this list, you can’t purchase carbon offsets directly from their website. Instead, you work with the company to come up with cost-effective climate objectives. That’s why Paying.Green is a better option for businesses.
5. Best Carbon Offset Program for Events
With everything from potential food waste to multiple forms of transportation, large events often have a high carbon footprint. Fortunately, whether you’re having a big wedding or a casual cookout in your backyard, there are steps you can take to reduce waste and the environmental impact of these events, including using Terrapass to offset emissions.
Terrapass has an easy-to-use carbon calculator that helps you better understand and offset the carbon footprint of every event you host. To use the calculator, simply enter information about the number of attendees, how they’re traveling to the event, the venue, hotel accommodations, and the type of food being served.
As you enter these details, the calculator will show you the carbon footprint of your event and the cost of the offset.
You can feel good knowing the funds are going to certified projects that follow strict and verifiable standards. Some of the projects Terrapass supports include forestry management, renewable energy, abandoned coal mine methane capture, and landfill gas capture.
6. Best Carbon Offset Program for Homes
Different household activities create different amounts of emissions. With Myclimate, you can quickly and easily plug in your activity into their calculator to offset your personal footprint, including food, energy consumption, transportation, travel, shopping habits, and more.
To discover the carbon footprint of your home, add your house’s size, heating methods, and power consumption into the calculator. Myclimate will then calculate your CO2 emissions and give you a cost to offset them.
Like other options on this list of the best carbon offset programs, Myclimate only supports projects that are independently certified. These include projects that use renewable energies, cut methane emissions, and support reforestation and new forest initiatives.
7. Best Carbon Offset Program for Commuters
We all know that driving releases carbon emissions into the air. While bicycling or walking is a great way to eliminate these emissions, they’re not always possible.
To help offset the CO2 emissions from driving to work or running errands, check out Clear.
Like other carbon offset programs, Clear has options for individuals and businesses. However, we choose Clear as the best carbon offset program for commuters because they have so many transportation options available.
You can choose to offset your flight, car, electric car, motorcycle, or public transportation commute. They even have options for offsetting your skydive or balloon flight! (And I would love to know what job you have if that’s how you commute. 😂)
To calculate and offset the carbon footprint of your commute, enter the information about how often you commute, how you get to work, and how far you travel into the calculator. Clear will then tell you how much it is to offset those miles.
Clear has access to hundreds of high-quality sustainable projects around the world, such as assisting in reforestation projects, developing wind farms and hydroelectric plants, and improving the efficiency of cook stoves.
8. Best Carbon Offset Program Online Calculator
It’s incredibly important for a carbon offset program to have an easy-to-use calculator. If the calculator is confusing or hard to figure out, you’re not going to use it and you won’t offset your emissions.
Native Energy was founded in 2000, so they obviously know how to make things simple to use. They have a wide range of offset options for both businesses and individuals, and their online calculator couldn’t be easier to use.
It lets you quickly calculate the carbon footprint of your home, travel, event, or business. You can then complete a one-time offset purchase, or you can select a monthly, quarterly, or annual offset.
Every carbon offset project Native Energy uses is certified by one of several third-party organizations. While the projects vary, they typically cover reforestation and emissions reduction.
When you pay for your offset, you’ll immediately see exactly which project your money will support.
9. Best Carbon Offset Program for ECommerce
If you have your own business, you know opening an online store lets you reach customers around the world. Unfortunately, this also means every online transaction has its own carbon footprint.
If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to balance the carbon footprint of these online orders, take a look at Carbon Checkout. This plug-in software application seamlessly integrates into your existing eCommerce store.
It gives your shoppers an opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their online transaction. Carbon Checkout then pools these contributions into one fund and invests in renewable energy projects that offset CO2 emissions.
Customers who choose to participate will receive an email with their own unique verification code that they can use to access their portfolio on the Carbon Checkout website. Here, they can track their carbon offset contributions.
Carbon Checkout only partners with third-party validated and independently audited and tracked projects that have measurable and permanent emission reductions.
Although Carbon Checkout doesn’t have an online calculator that lets individuals calculate and purchase their own carbon credits, all of the above features make it the best option for eCommerce businesses looking to balance their own emissions.
How to Choose the Best Carbon Offset Program
Carbon offset programs are an effective way to even out the environmental impacts of activities you do in your daily life. However, to make sure your contributions actually work, it’s important to ensure you’re donating to a reputable company.
That’s why, when putting together this list of the top carbon offset programs, we choose ones that work with third-party certified projects. We also made sure these programs had easy-to-use calculators and a variety of offset options available.
While we picked Paying.Green as the best program for businesses and Carbon Checkout as the top option for eCommerce sites, we thought Myclimate was the best for the home category because of its numerous home carbon offset options.
We liked Sustainable Air Travel and atmosfair for people who enjoy traveling, and we thought Clear had the most comprehensive options for commuters. We also thought Terrapass was great for events, and Native Energy has the easiest-to-use calculator.
Ultimately, we made tentree our top pick because it has so many affordable packages available. You also have the ability to purchase monthly or yearly offsets, which makes it easy to commit to regularly offsetting your carbon footprint.
When you’re deciding which program is right for you, be sure to look for one that’s transparent about where the money is spent so you know you’re making a real difference.
Picking Out the Best Carbon Offset Programs
Reducing our own emissions should always be our first priority. However, there are times when emission reduction isn’t possible. Fortunately, there’s something we can do about that.
Thanks to this collection of the best carbon offset programs, you now have several fantastic options that can perfectly suit your needs. Pick out the program that works best for you and help make a difference in the fight against climate change.
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