Thursday, April 05, 2007

How to be Carbon Neutral

There's a lot of talk about being "Carbon Neutral". So what does that mean? And how does one do it?

Essentially there are two main ways of producing carbon dioxide...
(1) Using electricity that comes from coal-based power stations, and
(2) Driving vehicles that use petrol.
As most people (at least in Australia) do one or both of these, to be "Carbon Neutral" we have do something to neutralise these activities.

For electricity it is quite easy. Pretty much every energy company in Australia offers their own version of Greenpower. For a slight additional charge, your electricity company will get power from renewable sources, rather than from coal. Obviously if you set the amount to be the same amount that you use, you have cancelled out the greenhouse gases caused by your electricity use.

For cars it is slightly different - but equally as simple. Sites like Greenfleet have calculators that enable you to calculate the tonnes of carbon dioxide generated from your travel (you can include plane flights if you like). As trees breathe in carbon dioxide, Greenfleet will plant enough trees to cancel out the carbon dioxide produced. This is relatively cheap at around $40 per year for the average car user.

Well done! You are now carbon neutral (if you did those things).

Of course, if you want to go the extra mile, there are other things you can do. For instance, buying locally reduces the amount of fuel used to transport your food to the shops. Recycling glass, plastics and aluminium reduces the energy required to make your bottles and cans. Technically, this is "other people's" carbon, but it still helps save the planet.

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