You’ve likely come across brands who make big promises with their products. Some are verified, such as eco-labels, which include organic and Fair Trade. However, some claims can include misleading practices such as greenwashing, which have increased in recent years.
In the late 2000s, a new term was added: carbon neutral. Being carbon neutral means that a company has taken steps to remove or offset the same amount of carbon dioxide it produces to help reduce its contribution to climate change.
It can be a complex topic, but an example is an airline company funding to protect parts of the Amazon Rainforest to make up for their planes’ emissions.
Here are the four main steps that companies follow to become carbon neutral:
Define the goals
Companies begin by measuring their CO2 emissions to discover which areas contribute the most, what can be cut back, and the steps needed to take action.
Begin reducing when possible
While giving back to the planet by offsetting emissions is a great path for eco-friendly brands, they aim to reduce what they’re already working with. This may look like switching to natural power sources such as solar, wind, and water or swapping out unsustainable plastic packaging.
Any emissions that can’t be eliminated are offset through various means, typically by investing in products or activities that remove or reduce CO2 from the atmosphere. The United Nations Carbon Offset Platform has created a tool for companies and individuals to get started and includes climate-focused projects needing funding.
To make it official, companies undergo a verification process from Carbon Trust or another reliable source to confirm their carbon neutral claims.
To shop sustainably, check out changeclimate.org for a list of verified carbon neutral companies. While much of the focus is typically on larger organizations, you can check your individual carbon footprint at home using online tools. Supporting carbon neutral brands is a big step toward building a greener world.
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