Carbon Offsets 101


Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. By simply participating in modern society – eating, working, shopping, building, traveling – we generate an unavoidable carbon footprint that cannot be reduced to zero by individual lifestyle choices alone. It has become necessary that, in addition to making our personal footprint as minimal as possible, we go beyond to participate in ground-breaking emission reduction technologies that accelerate the global transition to a low carbon, sustainable economy.

Carbon offsets are one such solution - a convenient and effective way to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond what we can achieve through individual lifestyle choices. By purchasing carbon offsets, we can fund projects that offset significant amounts of GHG emissions – projects that would not exist without the financial support of the sale of carbon offsets. In carbon finance lingo, this is called additionality.

Carbon offsets are created when independent organizations like the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) rigorously review a new project’s potential to reduce GHG emissions according to a standardized, scientific approach. Once the GHG reduction is created, measured and third-party verified, each carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton (2,205 lbs) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) permanently removed from the atmosphere. The offset is placed into an environmental commodity registry and can then be purchased and permanently retired in the marketplace.

Landfill gas capture projects generate carbon offsets by capturing and destroying methane that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere at 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Wind and solar energy projects produce zero emission energy that replaces the need to extract and burn fossil fuels to meet energy demand. Native forest and wetland conservation projects remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to play a vital role in carbon reduction through capture and sequestration.

By funding these types of projects through the purchase of carbon offsets, we are able to achieve verifiable, measurable and permanent GHG emission reductions. We are thereby able to compensate for the unavoidable emissions that we are unable to fully eliminate with individual lifestyle choices. 



Carbon Checkout pools contributions made at checkout on our e-commerce partner sites to buy large blocks of verified carbon offsets from carefully vetted projects. Our crowdfunding model allows individuals to purchase carbon offsets at a volume-discounted rate that previously was only reserved for large corporate investors. For every $1 contributed, Carbon Checkout offsets 245 pounds of GHG emissions that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere. Our offsets are currently trading at $4.08 per 1,000 pounds of emission reductions, the lowest trading price of any retail carbon offset provider.

The carbon offset projects we endorse and fund are third-party verified by VCS and CAR. Our primary investment strategy is focused on utility scale Wind and Solar infrastructure; though we are also incorporating forest protection projects that are certified to the United Nations REDD Program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), as well as carbon capture projects that convert emissions to energy, both landfill and agricultural emissions.

In the spirit of transparency and increased consumer engagement, we generate a personal Carbon Checkout portfolio for every customer, where they can track all personal carbon offset contributions and learn about the projects they help to make possible. The unique verification code for each contribution correlates with a pooled investment that is permanently retired on one of the two environmental commodity registries, APX and Markit. We are currently building out additional specs for the Carbon Checkout portfolio to include more information on each project, along with personal metrics, and documentation from third-party audits.

Connect with Carbon Checkout’s Facebook and Twitter feeds as we continue to expand our carbon offset project portfolio and Crowdfund for Climate Change!