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Life worth living: three steps to take toward carbon neutrality

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According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, over 50% of Hoosiers are worried about climate, as it continues to be negatively affected by carbon emissions. A person or thing is carbon neutral when it does not add greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere. Carbon neutrality means being net-neutral. You still emit some GHGs but invest in projects that soak up the same amount it emits. Anything can be carbon neutral: an individual, a household, a company, a specific product that a company makes, a city, a state, a country, even the entire world.

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared the world must become carbon neutral by 2050 or face expensive and horrific consequences. Carbon Neutral Indiana (CNI) is a nonprofit social enterprise that’s helping Indiana become carbon neutral as soon as possible. Founded in April of 2020, CNI analyzes the carbon footprints of households, businesses and academic institutions at no charge and connects them with verified projects that offset their footprints. If you don’t want your carbon emissions to damage your very own backyard or experience longer heat waves, more heat strokes and respiratory illnesses from poor air quality, there’s something you can do about it. Here are three steps to take toward a life of carbon neutrality: 

1. Measure your carbon footprint and other GHGs from activities.

It’s important to first calculate your carbon footprint to see where your emissions come from. Some of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in a typical household include electricity, natural gas, transportation and consumption, which means buying goods and services. For example, if you calculate all the energy required to create, ship and operate an iPhone, as well as the energy to run the servers that store its data, it’s about as energy intensive as a refrigerator. 

2. Reduce emissions wherever possible.

To reduce a household’s direct emissions, you might consider investing in energy efficiency to reduce the amount of electricity used per product, such as LED light bulbs or energy efficient appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators. There are so many other ways households can reduce emissions. Use a heat pump, work from home a couple of days a week, go for a plant-based meal by participating in “meatless Monday” and buy high quality clothing as opposed to fast fashion, which creates about 10% of global emissions. Take more time to seal any air that leaks into or out of your home, fly less or not at all, install solar energy, and switch to a hybrid or an electric vehicle to get higher miles per gallon. 

3. Offset the remainder as you go. 

Investing in the carbon market by purchasing carbon offsets is a great, affordable way to balance the remainder of your emissions. That is, buy carbon offsets generated by internationally verified projects that either reduce emissions or pull them out of the atmosphere. Examples include a tree-planting project or a landfill methane-capture project. Due to so many project types and developers, there’s a massive competition to offer the lowest cost, highest quality “negative emission.” This results in a cost-effective reduction of GHG emissions. So far, CNI has invested in three internationally verified carbon projects: forestry and land use, methane capture and utilization and nitrous oxide avoidance from nitric acid reduction.
Although these steps may seem intimidating, CNI makes it easy by measuring your carbon footprint for you over the phone in fifteen minutes or less and providing the best carbon offset investment options for you.

For more information on Carbon Neutral Indiana or becoming carbon neutral, visit: https://www.carbonneutralindiana.org/.

Daniel Poynter is the founder of Carbon Neutral Indiana.

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