The two aren’t mutually exclusive!
Darn you beat me to it. I should have edited my original post
I get where you’re coming from @eden - I have the same concerns (hence why I spent 2 hours digging around the various financials).
I get the desire to offset too - similarly I’d like to try and reduce my overall footprint, so if these projects help do that in a meaningful way then I am up for them - like a few others have said here, it’s impossible to do everything myself. I want to both shop at eco conscious companies and offset what I can.
It’s also going to be impossible to donate money without ever having overheads right - along the way there will have to be a conversion of my donation into a salary for people leading these projects. And I also get that it’s hard for these projects to gain awareness from people without a platform - so again the existence is useful. What I find the biggest struggle though is how many ‘layers’ you get to before the money filters down.
Which I why I spent a couple of hours looking at Offset Earth’s data and their partners.
In the case of the tree planting side - they do genuinely plant trees to reforest an area - unlike some which seem to have dubious status as a manged forest (so little to no carbon sequestering there) so I’m happy with that.
In the case of the other side, the Carbon Offset projects, they go to projects with a verified/validated Carbon value, or ecomonic improvement of some kind. Wind farms in rurual areas, hydroelectric projects, access to clean water. And sure people of course have to get paid to run those projects, but they do seem to be genuinely useful projects that do deliver both a environment benefit, and a social benefit too. it is these projects I have the biggest issue with though, due to the lack of transparency about how Gold Standard fund them.
If you dig into the numbers though, I would estimate that maybe of your £5 monthly donation, about 45% of that makes its way to the cause proposed. (not quite the 85%).
And the ultimate challenge I have surrounding platforms like Offset Earth - they are only ever an intermediary - and you never really know how many hands the money goes through before it gets used for it’s donated purpose.
That’s likely always going to be the case though, and these guys seem as close to the source as you might get, without going direct, but it’s a worthy consideration I think everyone needs to make.
As others have said, they’re not mutually exclusive.
For me personally, it’s not about becoming carbon neutral to make up for all the polluting corporations do, but rather so my own individual impact is carbon positive. IE, leaving the world better than I found it by giving back more than I take.
I try to be as conscious as possible with all my decisions. My energy supplier is Bulb, and my home is electric only, so my energy consumption is 100% renewable. I buy the vast majority of my computing equipment from Apple on the basis of their commitment to the environment, among other important things. I buy all my t shirts from Rapanui due to their innovative circular approach to fashion. The vast majority of my food consumption is Saturo, which is vegan and has a minimal environmental impact compared to other sources of food sans the shipping. I used to shop with Ocado (Can’t anymore since leaving England) for their bag recycling program, though they will also take other plastic packaging and cardboard, and pay you for it. These are just some examples of more environmentally friendly companies I choose to buy from. I try as best as I can to avoid all companies who don’t share in that commitment.
These companies don’t sit right with me. You are just paying someone to feel better about your either your decisions or your laziness. Just make better decisions AND contribute yourself either through planting trees or giving to a charity that does it. I don’t need a fancy page to brag about how many trees I purchased. I don’t need to show off about the good I do - I don’t do it for that.
You’ll find a lot of people aren’t interested in showing off their “fancy page” in fact the only time I’ve ever posted the link to mine was on here just to show what it’s about, I already do what I can in regards to the environment.
I’m not interested in giving to a charity and found this as a suitable alternative, at the end of the day it’s whatever works for that individual.
Why is it better than a charity which does the same thing?
I completely get your reservations and respect your opinion. The key for me here is that operating as a company allows them be more nimble, but they very much behave like a charity, and the level of transparency goes a long way towards convincing me to trust them to do some good with my money.
The benefit to a platform like this in my view comes down to two things. Consolidation and convenience. I’m trusting them to do the hard work of researching the projects for me. This is extremely convenient, and will save a ton of time vs finding, researching, and donating to similar projects myself. My subscription from what I gather will be split between a multitude of different projects that I would never be able to seek out and research by myself. I don’t particularly care about the superfluous pat on the back stuff, but I can understand why other people might. It can be unsatisfying donating to charities and then never knowing how your donation was used or who it helped. I personally like to know that stuff, but I also prefer to donate to charities anonymously via third party platforms, so it’s not information I’m usually exposed to.
I get where you’re coming from with for profit companies too, and it’s probably something I need to dig into a little deeper myself, but it’s entirely possible for profit generating companies to be doing just as much good as charities. From what I understand though, they’re using the money to fund projects that are run by those for profit companies, so not actually investing it in the company itself.
As I said, this isn’t to replace any donations I make to charities I believe in, or to replace efforts to keep my carbon footprint as close to neutral as possible, nor is it for a pat on the back, but it’s to add on to those other life style choices make. Frankly it’s a shame offsetting platforms need to even exist. There shouldn’t be a need for them at all, and that’s the root problem we need to eradicate, but until we get to that point, it’s a program I’ll support. I care about our planet, not for us, but for the other species with whom we cohabit. We are destroying their home, and it’s not right. So I will make sure my contribution to that is as little or non-existent as I possibly can.
As for planting trees yourself @lpoolrob, I’ve used The Present Tree many times. They’re more oriented towards gift giving, I especially like them for wedding gifts, or as a memorial, so I’m sure you can get trees for cheaper elsewhere; but I’ve also treated myself to a few of them for my own garden as well. The only downside are the spiders that like to make their home in my trees. I’m terrified of them.
A quick edit of something similar I’d like to see more of:
I use a platform called good on you for researching clothes, which is how I found Rapanui and Organic Basics (which in turn led me to find their climate credit products). I’d like to see the idea of this applied across other industries. If anyone here happens to know any, please share them!
On the “plant your own trees” thing - The Woodland Trust sell loads of varieties of trees as saplings for about £9 each. So if you want to contribute to a charity that does manage and protect forests, and also plant trees yourself - this is a nice way to do it.
And this is what the whole B Corp movement is about, or “sustainable capitalism” in their terms. It is entirely possible to do, and being a profit-seeking company does not mean no good is being done.
I wish I had the space to plant a lot of trees, but I have got a lovely silver birch (from the Woodland Trust!) growing in my wildlife area which also has a pond and bird feeders.
It’s my favourite place in the garden!
(Ignore the poorly looking Hebe, it didn’t take very well to being repotted and is taking awhile to recover!)
That looks lovely! Almost looks like you live in a castle with the old stone walls.
I’m very envious, from my gardenless first floor flat!
While not directly linked I came across this Search engine today which plants trees for you:
I just looked at the Ecosia site which lists where they plant trees. I can’t help but notice these sites are all in countries with less developed democracies
I understand the need for this to keep their costs down and plant lots of trees… but doesn’t this put the trees at a risk of the government just deciding to do a mass deforestation? Or isn’t this indirectly funding authoritarian/not very democratic governments? What are the safeguards?
To be honest I’ve not looked into it. I don’t actually use any other sites for searching other than Google. As much as I’d like to use Duck, Duck Go or Ecosia I just find I don’t get the results I need. Just thought it was interesting and posted!
Just resumed my subscription today as I’d had it on pause for the last few months whilst I waited to see what one of my employers was doing with my job, that’s staying to back to paying.
Nice to see they’ve had progress getting a few more planting sites on board along with the number of trees planted each month being around half a million.
Forgotten how much I missed reading about the various projects they support around the globe.
I’ve actually moved to Bulb’s carbon offsetting subscription. My energy is with them too so it keeps things simple. I was never a fan of the name change to ecologi too, as shallow as that is. I much preferred the offset.earth moniker.
They’ve added some more UK tree planting in the last week, partnering with a new organisation.
I’ve emailed them some information about replanting UK sea grass in the hopes they might be able to help the oceans out a bit.
I keep meaning to write a blog post about it, maybe this will give me the motivation to actually do it. Att the moment by blog is sparser than a parcel of land waiting to be rewilded.