Can We Really Have Carbon Neutral Lives ?

working towards carbon neutral (illustration by Anna Godeassi)
Learn how you can work towards having carbon neutral lives. 
You might be thinking about our carbon footprint contribution and wondering whether you’re doing the right things to reduce our carbon emissions. Find out things we all can do to lower our impact on the environment and work towards having carbon neutral lives. 

What does “carbon neutral” mean ? 

Carbon neutral is a term that has sprouted many definitions, and how to achieve it has spawned countless interpretations, too. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, which made carbon neutral its 2006 “word of the year” it involves “calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions, reducing them where possible and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset”. 

Working Towards  “carbon neutral” Lives 

Living in a climate-neutral manner is a question of lifestyle choices and making improvements over time. with the current technologies advancement, it is possible to work towards having a climate neutral lives.

1. Calculate your carbon footprint   

Start your climate neutral quest  by calculating your energy usage. To calculate, you’ll need information about your home energy use and your travel by car and public transportation. Some calculators also ask about your eating habits, how much you recycle and compost, and how much you send buying goods and dining out. the equation can get involved. Record your information sources, and then revisit the calculator periodically with new numbers to see how you’re doing. 
Check out Capture App, you can find out how much CO2 you’re responsible for and how you can minimise your impact.
Capture App Illustration
Capture App Illustration (image credit : Captureapp)

2. Reduce what you can, offset what you cannot    

Reduce your carbon footprint by reducing energy use, making your diet more climate friendly, and consume less. For decades, we have used too much products and much of it is toxic. When we consume less, we produce fewer emissions and are kinder on the earth. Sharing, making, fixing, up-cycling, repurposing, and composting are all good places to start.  
Offset your Carbon footprint with various projects that aims to remove CO2. Carbon offsetting is a way to ‘cancel out’ carbon emissions that have been spewed in to the atmosphere. It works by letting emitters (including individuals, governments, or businesses) fund and take credit for greenhouse gas reductions from a different projects or activity elsewhere.
Carbon offsets can include things like : 
  • planting trees, mangrove restoration or other activities that store carbon in the land or water instead of the air. 
  • Gas-capture projects that prevent emissions from reaching the atmosphere, such as ones that trap methane from decomposing garbage in landfills. 
  • Clean energy or development projects that displace fossil fuels, such as wind turbines or solar power to replace a fossil fuel-burning power plant. 
While supporting the projects that aim to remove CO2, make sure to choose offset projects that stringent standards and registered with a carbon offset registry.  Make sure to follow your contributions closely to ensure offsets are only sold once and not double-counted
By the end the day,  there’s no substitutes for direct emission reductions through choices like  eating a plant-based diet, cycling and walking more  instead of driving, using green energy or avoiding air travel. But in cases where  there are no feasible green alternatives, offsets can (theoretically) make a difference and help world transition to  a lower-carbon economy. 

3. Advocate     

The scale of the climate crisis is cast. Even if this post goes viral, we will not stop climate change. This because much of this problem has little direct interaction  with our day-to-day choices. We still live in a world of natural gas pipelines and steel factories that will be there even if you switch to plant-based diet. 
Here’s the good news, as important as any lifestyle change can do, taking a direct action to help push the legislation and economic changes that are required. Advocacy is the means that can help each individual become more than just one small player in a big movement. 
Get politically active ad vote for public servants/ leaders who take climate change seriously. They should commit to setting science-based targets to reduce harmful carbon emissions, implementing clear plans to reach those targets, adapting to climate change and shifting to a clean-energy economy. 

Will our efforts make a difference ?

We are all part of the solution. While your carbon footprint is just one small piece of the puzzle, your actions can illustrate the scale of  urgency. So whether you are an individual, an business, an organization or a government, there are many steps you can take to reduce your climate footprint and increase your handprint to zero carbon world.