It is rare to participate in a shopping experience that is truly carbon-neutral. No matter how environmentally responsible a product might be made, there is almost always a carbon price attached to your purchase. This isn't a surprise; with the way our major supply chains and society is structured, the production of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is inevitable.
Companies can avoid this, however, by participating in a practice called carbon offsetting.
In this article, we are going to go over what carbon offsets are, how this practice contributes to the fight against climate change, and how we use this at DYPER to create a carbon-neutral shopping experience.
What are Carbon Offsets?
Carbon offsets are "credits" that go towards funding a project that aims to reduce the amount of GHG emissions in the atmosphere. Each credit is worth a certain amount of C02. The money that is used to purchase the credit is then applied directly to the project at hand, thereby reducing the amount of C02 measured on the credit.
Put simply, carbon offsetting is the amount of money a company puts towards reducing carbon outside of its own operations.
This practice is often used to balance the GHG emissions the company itself produces. Since each carbon credit is a measure of the C02 that is actively stored or eliminated (usually one metric ton), it is easy for organizations to measure their environmental impact and reach carbon neutrality.
How These Projects Look
Most often, these projects involve some sort of forest restoration or tree planting initiative. Planting trees is one of the more common, long-term solutions to reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Not only do trees consume C02 during the process of photosynthesis, but restoration of previously devastated forests restores local biodiversity and increases the soil's ability to store carbon.
These projects function as powerful tools against rising levels of greenhouse gases. An oak tree, for instance, lives and consumes carbon for over 200 years on average. Plant a whole forest of oaks, and you have long-term protection against climate change. Trees take a long time to mature, however, and restoring an entire forest is a project that takes many years.
The point-of-no-return for global warming is right around the corner and critics have started questioning the viability of relying solely on these slower tree-planting projects.
Because of this, carbon offsets have grown to include a variety of environmentally responsible initiatives. Renewable energy projects have a more immediate effect on overall emissions. The same goes for energy efficiency projects, which all focus on reducing GHG emissions immediately through behavior and structural change.
As a consumer, however, it is important that you double-check the legitimacy of a company's carbon trading program. There are a lot of initiatives out there that don't make the difference they claim. For our children's and the environment's sake, it is important to see past these misleading campaigns.
So how do we know if a carbon offset is legit?
Legitimacy Requires Strict Certification
Many companies, by participating in the growing greenwashing trend, exaggerate their environmentally responsible efforts and claim carbon offsets when they have none. For instance, renewable energy credits serve as a tricky gray area for a lot of consumers.
While the language is the same as carbon credit, renewable energy credits (RECs) function completely differently. Oftentimes, a company will claim the RECs they purchase function as a carbon trade when they simply do not. And many consumers buy into this due to a lack of knowledge.
The best carbon offset programs have a strict certification process. All credits are certified by an independent, third-party organization or a government agency. The most common are Social Carbon, Gold Standard, Verra's Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS), and/or the UNFCCC.
Another important part of the certification process is proving the carbon mitigated is additional. In other words, the C02 wouldn't have been sequestered in any other way if it weren't for the project the carbon credits were funding. This additionality is one of the most important factors to look at when determining how effective these initiatives are.
The Impact of Carbon Offsets on Global Warming
The reason this practice works is due to the nature of our shared atmosphere. Pollution and GHG emissions are not localized to one area of the planet. The Amazon does not have fewer metric tons of carbon than China, even though major cities in China have some of the worst pollution metrics in the world.
This is because all greenhouse gases are spread uniformly throughout our atmosphere. Investing in a reforestation project in South America is the same as reducing C02 emissions from manufacturing processes at home.
This is why it has become such an effective environmentally responsible tactic for companies from across the globe. For many, it is easier to invest in large carbon trading programs than it is to reinvent their own production and consumption processes.
DYPER's Carbon Offsetting
In order to provide a carbon-neutral shopping experience, we looked beyond responsibly sourcing our materials and our landfill avoidance REDYPER™ program. We knew that more could be done to make the use of diapers and other baby products more responsible.
So, we turned to our own carbon offsetting program. For every box of diapers that are shipped to your door, we purchase a certain amount of carbon credits on your behalf. The certificate of proof is sent electronically to you with every shipment. This way, you can see what amount of C02 your purchase is actively sequestering.
The credits then go on to support the Alto Mayo Reforestation Project in Peru. This project aims to protect roughly 450,000 acres of tropical rainforests from deforestation. This is twice the size of New York City!
All of the GHG emissions are additional, meaning there are no other ways in which these emissions would have been reduced. And although our diapers are made from environmentally responsible sourced materials, we aim to balance the carbon footprint measurement of traditional disposable diapers, just to be safe. This means we invest in reducing more C02 than we might produce, creating a truly carbon-neutral experience.
One Part of a Myriad of Solutions
Carbon offsetting is not the perfect climate change solution. However, it is an important part of the myriad of solutions we need to rely on. Alongside carbon trading, companies need to reduce the overall emissions of their processes, and our society needs to adapt to an energy infrastructure that isn't reliant on fossil fuels.
Carbon offsetting can not lull us into a sense of complacency; things need to change at home too in order to effectively combat climate change.
That is why we at DYPER made sure to implement additional environmentally responsible measures in our business model. We provide landfill avoidance through our REDYPER™ program, we focus on environmentally kind packaging, and we use responsibly sourced goods in all of our products.
For us, carbon offsets are the cherries on top of the sundae. They aren't the foundation of our environmentally responsible policy but serve as the extra safety measures needed to be as clean as possible.