Carbon neutral is a word we hear a lot these days – and for a good reason! So many people around the globe are concerned about the earth’s vital signs and climate change occurring at a more rapid speed. And being carbon neutral plays a huge role in solving some of our environment’s biggest problems.
But what does carbon neutral mean? Pela Case explores this environmental term and what a company does to become carbon neutral. In addition, we explore what goes into our phone cases and, furthermore, what Pela Case is doing to offset our footprint.
What Does The Term ‘Carbon Neutral' Mean?
It’s been a growing trend among large corporations and businesses to become carbon neutral. Amazon has made a pledge to be totally carbon neutral by 2040, while Apple is shooting for carbon neutrality sooner by 2030. And although it’s more a recent trend, some businesses like Google claim they’ve been carbon neutral since 2007.
It’s not only companies that are setting carbon neutrality goals. Carbon neutrality is one of the main goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement, a multi-nation treaty created to address and fight climate change.
However, when you see the next big business or country announce their carbon neutral goals or that they aim to become net zero, what exactly does it mean?
To explain what it means to become “carbon neutral,” we must first talk about our carbon footprints. Since most everything we do as a society produces carbon dioxide, from driving to work to purchasing products and powering our homes, we all create some kind of carbon footprint. However, carbon dioxide that is caused by things like burning natural gas, fossil fuels and coal increases greenhouse gases.
While some greenhouse gases are natural, others have become a major culprit of climate change, which in turn contributes to changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and other negative reactions. In other words, the earth needs our help to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the best way to do that is to become carbon neutral.
However, it takes more than one means for a person or business to offset its entire carbon footprint. You can’t simply go out and buy an electric vehicle and think all is right with the world. To achieve complete carbon neutrality and curb the effects of climate change, you have to negate your current global footprint.
Luckily, becoming carbon neutral is not only for the big shots. Even you as an individual can set your own carbon-neutral goals and lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
How to Become Carbon Neutral with Carbon Offsets
Now you have an understanding of what it means to become carbon neutral. So how do you do it? What steps do you or a business need to take to reach net zero? There are several stages to take to become carbon neutral, from auditing to investing in offset projects. Here’s a breakdown and some information about each step to help guide you:
Auditing Emission Output
Before offsetting emissions, a company or individual needs to know how much carbon dioxide they’re putting out. This requires a system-wide emissions audit that determines how much CO2e is caused and released by daily operations and activities. Operations and activities could be anything from the production of a company’s goods to an individual’s daily commute.
On a business level, an audit is quite extensive. It’s not only evaluating all the merchandise and products offered to the public, but how said product materials are harvested or produced and even how they are transported and shipped to reach their final destination to the consumer. So even if you provide a service, you are creating carbon emissions. It also entails the day-to-day operations and energy use of the warehouse and the corporate office headquarters. Basically, unless an individual or company relies entirely on renewable energy like wind or solar panels, it’s putting out some kind of carbon emissions.
So how do you calculate your carbon footprint and find how many carbon emissions you need to offset? You’ll discover many online tools to calculate. After learning where you sit on the carbon emission scale, you can take further steps to reduce or offset your output, both directly and indirectly.
Invest in Carbon Offset Projects
One of the easiest ways to offset carbon emissions is to invest in carbon offset projects, which help reduce global carbon emissions. By purchasing a carbon credit, you are removing one metric ton of carbon dioxide. For example, taking a plane flight across a few states can contribute to many carbon emissions, but it’s difficult to avoid as an individual or business employee. However, you can offset that flight (or the jet plane’s emissions). Another typical example of carbon offset projects might include planting trees (that help absorb carbon dioxide when they’ve matured).
It’s worth noting that there have been criticisms and unreliability in these types of offsets. After all, you’re handing over money in good faith that it’s being put to good use. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a set of guidelines to help discover the most reputable carbon offset projects.
Rea – a quantifiable reduction in emissions
Permanent – emissions reduction cannot be temporary
Additional – reduction would not have happened otherwise
Verifiable – must be monitored for project legitimacy
Enforceable – laws to support emissions reductions
Still not sure where to start investing to reach carbon neutrality? The Gold Standard organization can also help find these reputable carbon offset projects that meet the EPA’s above requirements.
Also, carbon offsets can be found in one of three categories:
- Conservation and Restoration
- Carbon Capture and Storage Technology
- Social Good
Let’s explore each of these in-depth and what they mean.
Conservation and Restoration Projects
When you fund conservation and restoration offset projects, it goes toward helping our natural ecosystem. Some of these project activities include things like reforestation, where an area is replanted with trees. There is also sustainable forest management and farming practices. All in all, these projects and practices are designed to promote a healthy ecosystem, allowing trees and grasslands to grow healthy and strong. In turn, these natural elements will be able to capture and set off carbon dioxide. Funding conservation and restoration projects helps the rebuilding, growing and maintaining of the ecosystem and all its biodiversity, which ultimately removes carbon and greenhouse gases from the environment. In addition, planting and establishing new trees, plants and even grass helps remove carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.
Carbon Capture and Storage Projects
The second way you can offset carbon emissions is by carbon capture and storage projects. Many offset projects and programs that invest in storage technology help fund various renewable energy solutions like wind and solar power. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) capture and sequestration is another tech-based carbon emission project.
Another example of carbon capturing is landfill gas-to-gas energy programs. By capturing the methane gas that’s emitted from landfills, it turns it back into energy. This carbon capture project helps to not only keep methane gas out of the environment, but minimizes our dependency on fossil fuel-based energy. Investing in these kinds of tech projects can reduce high emissions and boost funding for other renewable energy storage solutions related to wind and solar farms.
Social Good and Climate Justice Efforts
Lastly, the third type of carbon offset project you could invest in is for social good and climate justice efforts. What does this mean, exactly? Essentially, it helps contribute to projects that assist underdeveloped countries and underserved communities that are severely affected by climate change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 analyses, other countries like the Bahamas, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are taking on the brunt of it all and seeing the most drastic changes and most significant impact. What social good and climate justice programs do is help countries such as these become equipped and resilient to combat climate change in the long run.
Some climate justice efforts work directly with these underserved communities, while others are more of a carbon offset initiative that funds technology or projects that help other communities. For example, one such carbon offset project that also provides social good? Giving underdeveloped countries and communities access to sustainable cooking means, reducing coal fuel consumption and thereby emissions.
Pela’s Carbon Neutral Plans and Sustainability Strategy
Now that you understand what it means to be carbon neutral and how to reach those goals, where can you as an individual start? Well, you can become more carbon neutral by taking public transport or commuting to work by bike. You can also install solar-powered panels on your roof. However, if you want to start small, start with your phone and choose a compostable phone case by Pela.
Pela believes in a waste-free future and leaving a planet better than we found it. But to get there, we had to create a phone case using sustainable materials.
Compostable Phone Cases
How long does it take for plastic to decompose? The short answer: too long! In fact, it’s so long that recent studies have found harmful microplastics in our oceans, fish and even our food. What are microplastics, you might also ask? According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Chemicals Agency, microplastics are broken down bits of plastic debris less than five millimeters in length (think of a sesame seed). Sadly, microplastics are the most common type of marine debris found in our oceans and waterways.
What’s worse is that many cell phone cases are plastic, further contributing to the problem of e-waste. That’s where Pela comes in. Designed from Flaxstic™, which is a combination of flax shive and plant-based biopolymers, our phone cases are compostable and break down in weeks or months – never years! On top of that, the biopolymers used are manufactured using up to 50 percent less non-renewable energy while producing up to 60 percent fewer greenhouse gases than your everyday plastic polymers.
As you can see, Pela’s compostable phone cases are truly sustainable. And while it’s something we take a lot of pride in, our sustainable tech accessories don’t stop there. We’ve also created compostable Apple Watch bands and AirPods cases. Pela has also taken greater initiatives with a carbon neutral plan and sustainability strategy. Like what? Glad you asked!
Our Carbon Neutral Plans
Compostable phone cases are great, but what else is Pela doing to better the earth? In 2020, our overall carbon footprint was measured, taking all associated direct and indirect emissions into account. With that knowledge, we were able to offset our carbon footprint.
By purchasing verified carbon credits, we have offset our entire carbon footprint to be Climate Neutral Certified. Overall, Pela products use 30 percent fewer carbon emissions, 34 percent less water and 80 percent less waste production. And we’re only getting started! We have lots of plans in the works, too. For instance, our 2020 Reduction Plan includes:
Streamlined transportation routes – By adding distribution centers in Canada and Europe, we have cut down on how our products get from Point A to Point B, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
Pela 360 Program – Taking responsibility for our phone cases throughout their entire life, we invite users to participate in the Pela 360 Program, which allows you to return your old case (conventional plastic or compostable) for recycling, upcycling or composting.
Improve Efficiency Operations – At Pela, we help our manufacturing facilities shift to more renewable power sources as well as improve the efficiency of their operations.
Choose a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Whether you take baby steps and choose a compostable phone case to reduce your e-waste or have higher goals of reaching net-zero, good on you! Taking a step toward a more sustainable lifestyle is an important one, either way. So do your part for our earth by doing what you can.
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