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So What's the Deal With Carbon Offsets?

Sustainability Activism
by Eva Holland May 17, 2008

We got a press release recently about a new “green” initiative courtesy of Green Mountain Energy Company and the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

Basically, Green Mountain’s carbon offset division, BeGreen, offers a range of “carbon offset products” and “green gifts”. AAdvantage members who buy these products and gifts online can earn frequent flyer miles for each dollar spent.

Is it just me, or is a carbon offset program that actually encourages people to fly more kind of counter-productive?

Then there’s the whole concept of “green” gifts and products. As my mother said recently: Assuming you already have a functioning bed, then chucking it to make room for your newly-purchased “green” bed is inherently less green than just keeping your old, un-green bed. Right? It seems there’s a whole “green” retail industry out there intent on cashing in – and too many folks seem to have forgotten that the very first of the “Three R’s” is “Reduce”.

As for carbon offsets themselves, when they’re not linked to frequent flyer points, I’m skeptical but willing to be convinced. Anyone have any thoughts on this complex issue? Have your say in the comments!

The Matador Network offers a ton of content on green travel in general, and carbon offsets in particular. Start with The Truth About Carbon Offsets, Simple Ways To Travel Greener, and The Inconvenient Truth About Green Travel.

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