Going Carbon Negative

There are many ways to lower your carbon footprint, from simply recycling to outfitting your home with solar panels, but there are somethings you mostly can’t avoid, like air travel. The good news is, you can offset your remaining carbon footprint by donating to a group that plants diverse native trees (non-native monocultures are bad for the planet).

In our case, we chose Trees For The Future, a fully vetted nonprofit group that works to replace monoculture farms with Forest Gardens, which provide diverse, native, and food-producing trees. These trees, besides clearing carbon, provide year-round food and income for the farmers, and are therefore far more protected than most tree planting operations, and it really does work. Plus, they provide a handy calculator so you know exactly how much you need to donate to offset your carbon footprint with them.

Trees For The Future can help you easily climb that final step to carbon neutrality, but what about going carbon negative? That’s where Ecosia comes in. Ecosia is a search engine which uses its proceeds to plant trees all over the world, and they have the financial reports to back it up. Using Ecosia requires no monetary commitment, every 45 searches plants 1 tree. I do a lot of searching for work, so I switched the search engine in my work browser to Ecosia, and we have already planted 8 trees after 2 months.

I’ve done the best I can to limit my carbon footprint, I use Trees For The Future to cover everything else, and Ecosia at work to plant a few extra trees. It’s easy to do, and well worth it.

Green Shipping?

Occasionally, I hear someone ask which shipping company is the most environmentally conscious. Look, the answer is simple. If you want to ship something in a “green” manner, just mail it. Why? Because the mail truck would have gone to the destination regardless.

Mail trucks deliver mail to the destination every day except Sunday, while most delivery services follow the same schedule but only travel to the destination when they have a package to deliver. No matter what kind of fuel they use or how high-tech their trucks are, two trucks will always release more carbon emissions than one truck, so choose the one that already has to visit the destination.

If environmental issues bug you too, please feel free to stop by Save the Environment for Free and Why I Chose the Conservation Fund.

Why I Chose The Conservation Fund

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the environment and nature, so every year I like to split up the bulk of my charitable donations between two conservation charities; The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy. This year, however, I am dumping all of that into The Conservation Fund and bypassing The Nature Conservancy. The answer to why is one simple question. How is your charity spending your money?

Last year, I made an honest mistake and forgot to donate to both charities. Since then, I have received one mailer, gift, and/or magazine each week from The Nature Conservancy asking me to donate again. By my calculations, the costs of printing, labor, and mailing this year have far exceeded what I donated in the past. In short, everything that I have donated to The Nature Conservancy has been spend trying to get me to donate again. Why should I donate to an organization that spends so much on something other than its core purpose?

To put it plainly, The Conservation Fund does not do that. All I have ever received from them has been a donation receipt at the end of the tax year with a nice little letter about the fund’s progress, and a biannual brochure about some of the fund’s ongoing projects. When I forgot to donate last year, I simply received nothing. In fact, The Conservation Fund only devotes 1% of their budget to fundraising and 2% to administration and other costs. That leaves 97% of their budget to the core purpose that you really care about. This is no doubt why Charity Navigator has awarded The Conservation Fund its top rating for the past 6 years, a rating held by only 4% of the charities they track.

From now on, I’ll make sure that my money only goes to charities that will ensure the majority of my donation is used towards the programs that I intended to fund in the first place.

Update September 2019: I can no longer in good conscience recommend The Conservation Fund. The past few years have been filled with great climate activism, and The Conservation Fund has been silent on all of it. Not a single press release, post, commentary of any kind, not even a retweet. While I hope they’re continuing to do great work, this makes me question their goals enough for 2019 to be the first year I skip donating. Instead, I’ll be focussing my efforts on Trees for the Future, which has almost as good of a Charity Navigator rating, and is very much involved in climate activism.

Provide Clean Water for Free

Three years ago, I published Save The Environment for Free, a post detailing some of the novel ways that you can help save our environment without having to spend a dime. Today, I’d like to talk about water.

Many of us are used to simply going to the kitchen for a cool and refreshing drink of fresh clean water, but over 800 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, and over 3 million people die from water-related disease each year.

Various charities are collecting donations to provide wells and water filtration to communities in need, but Children’s Safe Drinking Water is taking a new approach by providing two ways for you to provide clean water for free.

If you’re on Facebook, visit PUR’s Daily Drop to donate 10 liters of clean water for the cost of nothing more than a few clicks. If you aren’t already on Facebook, this may be the perfect reason to join.

If you have an iPhone or Android-powered phone, get the CauseWorld app. You’ll gain an average 5 karmas for every store you log visiting. Once you’ve gained 100 karmas, you can cash them in to provide 50 days worth of clean water for a child. 50 days worth of clean water for every 20 stores that you visit is not a bad deal at all, and you aren’t obligated to spend anything more than the effort (and perhaps gas) that it takes to visit the stores.

Want to provide more than just a few liters of clean water per day? Please consider making donations to Children’s Safe Drinking Water, Water.org, and Charity: Water.