What Does It Mean to Be Carbon Neutral?

April 08, 2021 3 min read

What Does It Mean to Be Carbon Neutral?

On Earth Day 2020, we announced Climate Neutral certification as one of the seven key initiatives in our Pledge for the Planet Commitment. This certification means we take full responsibility for the carbon emissions created in the manufacturing, transportation, and use of our products. April marks a year into our resolutions to battle climate change and help the world reach carbon neutrality by 2050. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more exciting updates about our efforts and the impact we made over the last twelve months.

But first, let’s do a quick refresher on what carbon emissions are all about and why the Climate Neutral certification is so important:

What does it mean to be carbon neutral?

It all goes back to the idea of reducing your carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the term used to refer to thetotal amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gasses) that are generated by our actions.” For businesses, this generally involves manufacturing, shipping, running an office, etc. For individuals, this could be driving to work, the products we eat, and how you power your home.

How are the gasses released?

One of the biggest culprits is the burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas and orimulsion) forelectricity, transportation, and heat. When you drive a fossil-fuel powered car, carbon dioxide,methane, and nitrous oxide are released into the atmosphere. Another example of an industry offender is mass agriculture: beef cattle releasemethane (CH4) when they digest their food.

What do the gasses do once they’re released?

The gasses emitted by our carbon footprint rise into the atmosphere and trap heat up there instead of allowing it to escape out into space. AsClimate Neutral examples it: “As humans put more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the planet’s atmospheric insulation changes from a nice, breathable summer quilt to a dangerous layer of bubble wrap that changes living conditions for virtually everything on Earth.”

The result: the very real and dangerous problem of global warming.

So what can we do about it?

To prevent some of the most damaging effects of climate change, we need the world to achieve “Carbon neutrality” in the next 30 years. This means balancing the amount of carbon and greenhouses gasses we emit and with the amount we remove from the atmosphere.

We can do this by measuring, reducing, and sequestration or offsetting (aka planting a tree for every one cut down) our carbon emissions. With thehelp of Climate Neutral, we’ve been able to balance these emissions, and today ChicoBag and ToGo Ware have a net carbon footprint of ZERO!

For the world to get to net zero by 2050, we need every individual to have a carbon footprint of less than 2 tons. Right now, in the US, the average person in the US has afootprint of 16 tons and the rest of the world is around 4 tons.

So what does it mean to be carbon neutral in everyday life?

Simply put: reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. This year, we challenge everybody to resolve to lowering their carbon footprint.

Here are some very easy suggestions on ways
you can start at home and in the office:

Offset:

Can’t always reduce your carbon footprint as much as you’d like? Consider an offset. Websites likeMyClimate help you to calculate the carbon emissions of a particular activity--and how much it would cost to balance them out.

For example:flying economy round trip from New York to Los Angeles produces 1.5 tons of CO₂; it costs $43 to offset this carbon. From there, MyClimate will help you identify where to send your donation: they’ll suggest climate protection efforts such as tree planting, wind power, solar power, and energy efficient heat pumps around the world.

Going forward into 2021, we hope you’ll consider your carbon footprint and begin taking steps toward reducing and offsetting your impact.To read more about climate neutral and carbon emissions, check out theFAQ from Climate Neutral.

P.S. Stay tuned for more information on our Climate Neutral certification for 2021!