In the travel and outdoor product market, cutting carbon emissions is becoming increasingly important. Consumers want to feel good about the products and services they buy and the companies providing them. On the other side of the coin, brands want to prove to consumers that they are serious about reducing their environmental impact. But until now, there wasn’t a streamlined way for you — as a buyer — to verify that the companies were actually holding up their end of the bargain.
A new nonprofit organization called Climate Neutral is actively working to remove that hurdle. Via a Kickstarter campaign, the group seeks to raise $100,000 to formally recognize brands that have committed to offsetting their carbon emissions. A company can become “Climate Neutral Certified” by committing to — and achieving — a net-zero carbon footprint for its “upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions.”
The concept is called “carbon labeling.” This basically means that everything from sourcing to distribution must be certified as climate neutral. In addition, the product must not be one that will simply sit in a landfill forever after its life cycle has passed. Once certified, a brand earns the right to use this sexy badge of honor on its products, website, social media, and other marketing efforts.
To be certified, a brand must first measure its total carbon footprint. Then, it must take active steps to reduce emissions and commit to offsetting any emissions it continues to produce by donating to one or more verified offset programs. Offset programs then use donations to remove carbon from the air — some through planting trees, others through building community programs around compost or other waste-elimination processes.
“Carbon labeling by itself will not solve all our climate problems,” said Peter Dering, CEO of Peak Design and co-founder of Climate Neutral, in a press release. “But by enabling consumers to make informed purchasing decisions, labeling can play a crucial role in encouraging businesses to take full responsibility for their carbon expenditure and apply a long-overdue price to carbon.”
The organization was started by travel gear brand Peak Design and BioLite, which sells outdoor gear that creates off-grid clean energy solutions. The goal is to make companies more aware of their emissions and get them motivated to eliminate and offset them.
“Consumer brands today offer many credentials to a prospective buyer, but none of them directly addresses the brand’s climate impact,” said the organization’s CEO Austin Whitman in a press release. “Even worse, most brands don’t know how much they contribute to climate change. Climate Neutral exists to address both of these gaps so that we can make headway in the climate crisis.”
When you head out to buy outdoor gear in 2020, look for the Climate Neutral Certified logo. You can support its Kickstarter campaign until December 12, 2019.