There's no denying it: Air travel is bad for the environment. The International Ecotourism Society estimates that 10 percent of all greenhouse gases come from air traffic. It's unrealistic for travelers to stop flying altogether, however, so a number of organizations offer a way for you to reduce the impact of flying: carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are basically donations made to environmental organizations that work to reduce greenhouse gases by supporting projects such as wind farms, reforestation, and the like. A number of websites sell carbon offsets and allow you to calculate the amount you should donate based on how much you fly. For example, on a round-trip New York/San Francisco journey, Sustainable Travel International's carbon offset calculator estimates each person flying generates almost two tons of carbon. It recommends purchasing an offset of $67 and allows you to choose which project you'd like your money to go to.
As not all sites that sell carbon offsets are reputable, it's important to find a qualified organization to buy from. The nonprofit organization Clean Air-Cool Planet created a consumer guide that presents evaluations of carbon offset providers. It gave high marks to The Climate Trust, Climate Care, and NativeEnergy, in addition to Sustainable Travel International.
To learn more, read our feature about tools for climate conscious travelers.
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