With the holidays getting closer, the UPS, Fed-Ex and US Postal Service trucks and planes will be running ’round the clock to get millions of packages delivered. All that delivery produces a whole lot of carbon emissions; in fact, Dr. Scott Matthews, a shipping expert at Carnegie Mellon University, calculates that the US shipping fleet alone creates more CO2 than the entire country of Canada. In response, Maryland-based non-profit Carbonfund.org has launched its Carbonfreetm Shipping program, which allows retailers to reduce some of the carbon footprint created by shipping packages to customers. Four companies — BetterWorld.com, Evogear.com, 3R Living and alonova.com — have joined the program, which Carbonfund created in partnership with Carnegie Mellon, and plan to either offset shipped purchases outright, or offer the option to their customers. It’s a small start, but an important one, according to people involved in the program:
“This is a big step forward for the fast-growing carbon offset industry,” says Eric Carlson, executive director of Carbonfund.org. “This program demonstrates that individuals and companies can have an impact on this global problem, one shipment at a time. It also proves that it’s not nearly as expensive to deal with climate change as many people might think.”
Professor Matthews, project leader for Carnegie Mellon’s Green Design Institute and an expert on the impact of material movement, agrees. “The application we’ve developed for this shipping program is scalable and can easily be modified to meet the needs of other businesses,” Matthews said. “This methodology could have a very broad effect on the way we address commercially-produced CO2 emissions.”
Thanks to all involved for getting this effort going. Carbon offsets won’t save us from the climate crisis on their own, but they’re an excellent way to get individuals thinking about the impact of their lifestyles, and to channel funds to projects that can lighten the load for all of us.