At ICL, we pride ourselves on working hard and smart to protect Idaho’s environment. To be successful, though, we have to travel often throughout the state from our three offices located in Boise, Ketchum and Sandpoint. While we try to use the most energy efficient means possible, we inevitably burn some fossil fuels. Our work at ICL also includes a robust climate campaign to guard against the effects of climate change and remove fossil fuels from our energy system. That’s why we decided, if we’re going to talk the talk, we better be ready to walk the walk. So we’re offsetting all of our travel-related carbon emissions from now on.

Our travel-related carbon footprint

In the last fiscal year, ICL staff drove 50,495 miles and flew 77,325 miles for work-related travel. Using statistics on the average amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per air and vehicle mile, I calculated that our staff travel resulted in roughly 40 tons of CO2 emissions. For reference, the average American is responsible for about 16 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Over a year ago, I wrote about how to offset carbon emissions, including what to look for in a carbon offset program. This year, we purchased 65 tons of carbon offsets ⁠— equivalent to offsetting 14 passenger cars driven for a year or 71,000 pounds of coal burned. We will also work to reduce unnecessary travel; offsets are good, but the best approach is always to burn less fossil fuels whenever possible.

How We Chose a Project

Unfortunately, there are currently no verified carbon offset projects based here in Idaho. With that in mind, we looked to an organization called Cool Effect, which has a number of verified carbon offset projects around the world. Ultimately, our staff settled on the Community Tree Planting project, which helps small communities in India, Kenya, and Uganda replant trees so they can counter the effects of poverty, deforestation and climate change. We chose this particular project for several reasons:

  1. It is independently verified by the Verified Carbon Standard.
  2. Its approach to removing CO2 is very simple – planting trees which sequester CO2 from the atmosphere. Since this program’s inception in 1999, over 18 million trees have been planted!
  3. It has an active GPS-based, on-the-ground monitoring program which enables independent tracking of the trees planted in each plot, providing “absolute transparency” into field operations.
  4. The sale of carbon credits provides income for participants and funding to address agricultural, HIV/AIDS, nutritional and fuel challenges for local communities.

Offset Your Own Emissions!

I challenge each and every one of you to look at your own carbon emissions and think about ways in which you can either reduce or offset those emissions.

  • Step 1: Use this handy dandy carbon calculator to estimate your carbon emissions.
  • Step 2: Pick a carbon offset program using an earlier blog post of mine for tips on what to look for. And if you want to purchase offsets from the same program as we did, check out the project page for Community Tree Planting.

ICL (and the planet) thanks you!