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Clean Air Gardening goes Carbon Neutral

Back in 2006, we decided to go Carbon Neutral.

You might be asking what that actually means. A lot of people have never heard of it, even though it was the Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2006.

The energy that we all use and depend on for day to day living primarily comes from fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas. When we burn fossil fuels, it results in the release of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is thought to contribute to global warming.

We decided that we would try to offset, or "neutralize" the amount of greenhouse gases we generate as a business by shipping products, driving back and forth to work, and keeping our workspace lit, heated and cooled.

We added up all the packages we received and sent, added up the average distances and shipping weights, and calculated how many metric tons of CO2 it created. And by the way, we calculated all the way back to 1998, when Clean Air Gardening first opened for business.

We offset the CO2 that we produced in 2006 with the help of Carbonfund.org, a non-profit organization that specializes in carbon offsets.

Carbonfund.org offers several different way to offset. For half of our offsets, we chose reforestation. Trees appealed to us, since we run a gardening related business. For the other half, we went with energy efficiency to promote conservation.

We didn't just buy a bunch of offsets so that we could continue to operate in a wasteful manner though. We also try to be as efficient as possible in operating our business. You can read about our eco friendly business practices here. We have even installed solar power that provides up to 25 percent of our electricity.

After offsetting our own CO2 emissions, we went a step further. We started matching donations of up to $10 to Trees for the Future during online purchases. For those donations, each 1 dollar donated plants a 10 trees, which absorb CO2 as they grow. The trees also provide other direct benefits such as providing shade, preventing soil erosion, replenishing water supplies and more.

The money our customers have donated and we have matched to the Arbor Day Foundation and Trees for the Future have been responsible for planting more than 220,000 trees since we began the program in the summer of 2006. Those trees planted through these efforts will offset more than 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide over their lives.

So maybe you're a global warming skeptic, and you think the whole thing is a bunch of made up mumbo jumbo. We hope that it turns out that you're right! But even if that turns out to be the case, what's wrong with planting tens of thousands of trees? Trees provide all kinds of environmental benefits in addition to absorbing CO2. They absorb pollutants, they provide shelter for wildlife, they provide shade, create oxygen, fight erosion and desertification, and even reduce noise pollution. Trees are truly a great natural resource, and an important part of our environment.