Monthly Subscription Services Offer Carbon Offsets to Individuals
WASHINGTON — Businesses aren’t alone in their efforts to offset carbon emissions; individuals also have the chance to balance their impact on the environment. And a growing crop of subscription services has popped up giving anyone the chance to contribute their pocket change to save the planet.
Carbon offsets, which are reductions in carbon that are used to compensate and counteract carbon emissions occurring elsewhere, can take the form of direct CO₂ removal, renewable energy projects, energy efficiency improvements and carbon sequestration practices. But accessing specific efforts has been a challenge for those who aren’t directly connected to the sustainability industry.
Now, both avid conservationists and armchair environmentalists alike can buy a subscription to fund the work of carbon offsetting.
Like Netflix for movies, Spotify for music, or StitchFix for clothing, an entire range of subscription services now exist to allow governments, businesses and individuals to donate to the Earth just as they might buy a recurring service or offer a monthly pledge to a charity.
These subscription services exist to help individuals calculate their carbon footprint and purchase offsets which attempt to make more than their mere monthly incremental difference for the planet. And each has a range of subscription levels supporting projects around the world.
From Climeworks, which uses “direct air capture” technology to remove CO₂ from the air and then geologically store it deep underground, to GoClimate, which supports various projects like water filtration works in Indonesia and landfill gas recovery in Colombia, and even the OffsetAlliance, a woman-owned small business that helps fund reforestation and grass prairie protection, close to a dozen of these subscription services exist, with plans starting at just a few dollars a month.
But each has a varying range of efficacy in championing offset projects that are effective, additional, permanent and verifiable.
“Carbon footprint is a complex field; no solution is perfect,” Derek Mauk, president of Ecologi North America, told The Well News.
Ecologi is a subscription offset service with plans starting at $10.50 per month in which 24 trees are planted that month across Africa, South America, Mexico and the United States. Its subscription funds are also used to harvest solar and wind energy, conserve the Amazon rainforest, rewild the Appalachians, and other sustainability projects.
“We use data from authoritative sources such as the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] and [the World Resources Institute’s] CAIT [Climate Data Explorer], and combine this with population data from the U.N.,” he said.
All of this helps Ecologi subscribers calculate their carbon footprint and then choose specific projects to offset those emissions.
“Our process is comparable to the processes used by large data insights organizations,” Mauk explained. “We update the footprints regularly based on the newest available data — although there is typically a three-year lag based on data availability from these sources. The latest update was in September 2021 using U.N. data from 2018 (the latest data available at the time).”
Ecologi’s website claims that its 36,726 members alone have funded the planting of 48.3 million trees and reduced 2.2 tons of CO₂e. And much of this has been done by individuals setting aside a few dollars a month.
“Around three quarters of our subscribers are individuals and one quarter are businesses,” Mauk told TWN, though he did admit that the majority of Ecologi’s impact comes from businesses — like Ubisoft, Hasbro and Vodafone — as they generally make larger transactions.
And while offsetting alone won’t be enough to reduce global carbon emissions or reverse climate change, when every little bit helps, individuals and their pocket change now have many options to subscribe to sustainability.
Kate can be reached at [email protected]