5 Laws of Personal Carbon Offsetting


Does it make you sad that governments are telling us we may have to wait until 2050 for a carbon neutral economy?

Makes me a bit angry. They have it in their power to do it faster, but vested economic interests….sigh, that’s another story.

But don’t get mad, get carbon net negative!

Yes, you can! For a small investment of time and money, if you want to go carbon net neutral today (i.e., absorb more carbon than you emit), you can.


Through the reduction of your carbon footprint, and via offsetting your carbon emissions.

Watch in the coming days for a Carbon Offsetting DYI series, in the meantime…..

The 5 Laws of Carbon and a Sustainable World

Before we get to how to offset your carbon footprint, there are some rules you need to know!

As with most things physical, there are laws to Carbon Offsetting.

Laws? Ok maybe not exactly laws. They are, as Captain Barbosa of Pirates of the Caribbean would say about the Pirates’ Code, “more like guidelines than laws”.

Respect them and net negative household carbon emissions are your reward.

The First Law of Carbon Offsetting – Measure to manage your carbon footprint

Old business adages can be apt, and one that works for carbon is ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure.’

If you know what your overall carbon footprint is, and which of your activities accounts for what percentage of your overall footprint, you can start to change your habits to reduce your impact, by focusing on the one or two activities that are the easiest to change.

More on this later!

But for now, all you need to know is that you don’t have to be nerdy to use one of the many online carbon footprint calculators. They are simple to use.

Again, more on this later!

The Second Law of Carbon Offsetting – “Reduce, reduce, reduce”.

Before you even think of offsetting your carbon footprint, you must make an effort to reduce it.

Because carbon can stay in the atmosphere for centuries, it is vital we put the least possible amount of carbon into the air, as we transition to carbon free world.

Any way you can save energy, you can save carbon, so just do it. Reduce waste. Bike, walk, scooter, or carpool. Eat less or no meat. Spurn packaging. Busy less stuff!

Do all this in various degrees and you will reduce your carbon footprint, save money, be healthier and happier. Guaranteed!

The Third Law of Carbon Offsetting – Save carbon and you save money

By reducing your carbon emissions, you almost always save money. For every ton of energy related to carbon that you don’t emit, you will save on average $50 to $100.

Going near to carbon-free would result in the average American household saving  about $2,000 annually.

Now, I admit, it took some clever assumptions to make this calculation work, because savings really depend on your activities and the amount of carbon each generates. But, even if it is only $1,000, why not!?

Any way you look at it, less carbon equals more money saved. In Canada we call that a ‘Two’fer’ or a two for one in the Queen’s or New York Times’ English.

The Fourth Law of Carbon Offsetting – Not all offsetting services are the same

Once you have calculated your footprint and decided how much to offset, you will need to figure out how to do it.

As few of us have the time or space to go out and plant trees, or to invest in solar power for the house, there are a numerous of services available to do the offset work for you.

The best help is to combat global climate change while caring for local communities or habitats. In many instances, the money invested provides much-needed local employment, health care, biodiversity protection, and / or other benefits to impoverished communities.

We will give you the low down on offset opportunities in our upcoming Carbon Offsetting DYI.

Fifth Law of Carbon Offsetting – Makes you happy!!

Offsetting makes you a better person. It’s fun, as well as family and community building.

No guff.

It is scientifically true that offsetting makes you happier, in fact, according to one study, any type of environmental activism increases your overall happiness by 15% or so.

So, get out there, and get happy!  Learn to offset, and then volunteer to show your families and friends how you did it!


You can check out The Sustainable Centuries upcoming ‘How to Organize a Carbon Offsetting Party’ Webinar, in late February.


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