What is Carbon Neutrality — and How to Achieve It

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Carbon neutral is the term that has sparked insurmountable interest since its debut as the 2006 Oxford dictionary word of the year. So what’s the buzz all about? An increasing number of businesses have pledged to go carbon neutral in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint. With the atmospheric carbon levels reaching an all-time high in 2020 at 412.5 ppm (parts per million), now is the time to look into green business practices. So, let’s take a look at what it means to be carbon neutral and how to implement these practices into a business.

What Is Carbon Neutrality?

Carbon neutrality is when the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere is balanced or offset by the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere. In principle, by investing in decarbonizing energy, you can neutralize the carbon produced and achieve carbon-neutral status. There are many benefits to going carbon neutral for businesses and the environment.

For a business, being carbon neutral demonstrates the company’s environmental responsibility and its commitment to preserving the ecosystem. It also establishes a sustainable profile that aligns the company into the portfolio of other eco-conscious businesses.

With that said, there are also plenty of benefits for the environment, including less environmental pollution, preserving biodiversity and improved ocean conditions. At the end of the day, the optics are great for a business, and there are plenty of positive environmental impacts.

How to Be a Carbon Neutral Company

Businesses can be carbon neutral by using third-party tools to calculate their carbon emissions. From there, they can balance their carbon footprint by investing in green energy. There are businesses across all industries that have carbon-neutral policies.

Technology and Software: Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an influential entity in the community, as it is not only carbon neutral but also encourages other businesses to take the pledge. It has been certified carbon neutral since 2019, purchasing carbon credits to offset its carbon footprint and implementing plans to reduce future emissions. It has transitioned to 100% renewable energy in the office and reduced the carbon footprint for its cloud computing software by 14%.

Fashion & Accessories: Warby Parker. Warby Parker is one of the only carbon-neutral eyewear companies in the world — selling sustainable eyewear online at affordable prices. The factories not only comply with existing environmental laws, but it has encouraged new environmental goals on the management of water, waste, scraps and dust by-products during production. In previous years, they have been purchasing carbon offsets in wind farms — specifically in the Sky Wind Project — which provides enough clean energy to the surrounding areas to power about 14,000 U.S. homes.

Food & Beverage: Coffee Bros. Coffee Bros. is a recognizable brand in the food and beverage industry that is also certified carbon neutral. It is looking at their packaging and how to either use less plastic or completely switch to compostable bags. It reduces emissions during production by maximizing the roaster’s capacity and only roasting two days a week. It has also pledged to pay for employees’ transportation to their NYC roasting facility when using green forms such as bicycles or electric motorbikes.

Carbon Friendly Consumers

Consumers can be more eco-conscious by reducing their carbon footprint through daily tasks. As of right now, individuals can’t be carbon neutral certified, but they can have a significant impact on the environment. For instance, making simple changes in your daily routine can lead to an overall greener lifestyle.

Ways to be greener at home:

  • Use energy-efficient appliances. If you are new to a house or apartment, just look up a manual or reviews online to see the energy usage of the existing appliances. If and when it’s time to get a new one, look into the efficient models on the market.
  • Regularly service your furnace and air conditioners to maximize efficiency. When it comes to large household appliances, such as a furnace, boiler, or AC unit, make sure they are not underperforming due to lack of maintenance. The more you are on top of the servicing, the more efficient these appliances will be.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs — which contain no mercury and last up to 20 times longer. This is such an easy way to make an intentional difference at home. LED light bulbs are affordable, easy to swap out, and are more energy-efficient.
  • Recycle. Be aware of the recycling rules in your area and make sure to do it the right way. For example, to recycle a tissue box or pasta box, make sure to throw out the plastic inserts before recycling the cardboard.

Ways to be greener at work:

  • Bring reusable water bottles instead of using single-use plastic. Investing in refillable drinkware is a game-changer, especially since it’s so simple and incredibly affordable.
  • Pack your lunch in washable containers. Don’t use plastic bags when bringing a lunch to work; invest in a lunch bag or canvas tote. By using reusable containers and bags, you can help reduce the ​​5 trillion single-use plastic bags that are used around the world every year.
  • Carpool with coworkers to limit the number of cars going to the same place. If you live close to friends and coworkers, it makes it easy and convenient to be greener on your commute to work.

Reaching a carbon-neutral status may not be possible for every industry — and that’s ok. All businesses are unique and have different values, but it never hurts to keep the environment in the back of your mind. Making the small decisions every day, whether it’s using a reusable coffee cup over plastic or taking public transportation to work, can make a significant difference.

About the author: As the publisher and CEO of SHALE Magazine and the host of In the Oil Patch radio show, Kym Bolado has conducted more than 250 interviews with energy experts. With 25 years of entrepreneurial experience, Kym Bolado started SHALE Magazine in 2013 as a result of her interest in the economic development taking place in Texas. The magazine thrived early on and has seen exponential growth since. Along with the growth of the magazine, Bolado took on the new challenge of becoming a radio talk show host on In the Oil Patch. In the Oil Patch was started in 2015 on San Antonio’s KTSA 550 AM. Within six months the show was in syndication. The show now airs on iHeart’s KTRH 740 AM in Houston, the number one talk radio station in the U.S. The radio show also airs in major metropolitan areas in Texas including Dallas, Midland, San Antonio, Austin, and Corpus Christi, as well as parts of New Mexico, Louisiana, and Mexico.

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