I was cruising around the internet one day, pretending to be getting up to date on current affairs but really just reading the lifestyle pages of online papers, when I came across this Times article on a company called Nobody’s Child.
Obviously, my reaction was “wow, sustainable fashion at a reasonable price point I must review this for the blog” but then I thought “oh no how I will get the sustainable fashion to my house on the other side of the world it won’t be sustainable anymore”. No worries! I had recently been talking to a friend about offsetting flights, and I realised that my dresses were also kind of going on a holiday, and therefore I could look into offsetting their flights to NZ.
I preface all that follows by noting that offsetting is not a panacea – not flying things around the world needlessly is in fact the best option. But, you know, the point of the blog is to explore new ideas and review things etc, so I felt like a blog post about offsetting would be on point.
I contacted the good people at Ekos and asked them a bunch of questions about offsetting – they were awesome, and gave me everything we could want to know. The other good thing about offsetting, from my perspective, is that it adds an actual cost to your purchase. I’ve now pledged to offset any online purchases and man, does it ever slam the brakes on an impulse purchase if you think you’re going to pay a premium for it – a totally justifiable premium, that reflects your polluting ways. It’s a very real reminder that buying another pair of summer sandals will require the burning of fossil fuels.
Tune in next week for my review of the clothes from Nobody’s Child – for now, here’s my interview with Ekos!
What happens when I offset my travel or purchases from overseas?
Voluntary carbon offsetting involves taking responsibility for our carbon emissions pollution. We do this by measuring the amount of carbon pollution we produce from things like flying and driving (burning fossil fuels), and then compensating for these emissions by causing an equal volume of carbon to be taken out of the air by establishing new forests and protecting old ones. This is because forests take carbon out of the air through photosynthesis – a process of capturing and storing the sun’s energy in the form of sugar and wood.
One carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide that has been taken out of the atmosphere by a forest. If our carbon pollution is equal to ten tonnes of carbon dioxide, we can offset this (compensating for our emissions) by purchasing ten carbon credits. These carbon credits are then cancelled in a carbon registry so that they cannot be used by anyone else.
When we buy carbon credits, the money goes to the landowner who has decided to sell carbon credits instead of beef and lamb. In this way our carbon offsetting pays landowners to look after our rural landscapes by taking carbon out of the air and also providing all of the other benefits provided by forests.
Can you tell me a little about the projects that Ekos is running, particularly in New Zealand?
We have three restorative, permanent indigenous forest projects that are currently issuing credits in NZ: Rarakau, Rameka and a new project called Uruwhenua. You can find out more details about the first two here: https://ekos.org.nz/our-projects. The Uruwhenua project is so new, it is not on our website yet.
You focus on native/indigenous forest. Can you explain to readers why native plants are more beneficial?
Forests provide many benefits to people and nature. A few of these benefits include erosion control, flood protection, and stream protection. Because forests cool the land surface and reduce wind speeds they also help to increase soil moisture and water storage in soils. This helps to feed water to streams in dry seasons. By shading streams, forests also help to lower stream temperatures, and this is good for stream biodiversity, including fish. Forests also contain biodiversity, as well as storing carbon.
Indigenous forests provide all of these benefits but have the added value of providing even greater soil moisture, greater biodiversity, greater flood protection and greater stream protection than exotic monocultures. All of these benefits are enhanced when a forest is allowed to grow old, rather than being harvested. This is why Ekos focuses on establishing and protecting permanent indigenous forests that can thrive for thousands of years.
Lots of NZers will travel overseas relatively infrequently compared to how often they will get thing shipped to them from overseas. Should we be thinking about offsetting for our parcels and packages too?
Yes, ultimately we all have a role to play in reducing and offsetting the emissions we create in our daily lives. Even if they are small, freighting undoubtedly has an impact (especially when goods are heavy and freighted by air). When calculating freight emissions we measure the mode it travels (ship, air, truck) the weight and the distance.
What trends have you identified in offsetting?
We have definitely seen a recent surge in individuals and businesses wanting to measure their carbon footprints and go Zero Carbon with Ekos. Perhaps this is in response to their kids taking to the streets and demanding for action on climate change, or perhaps it is because the government is getting serious with the introduction of the Zero Carbon Bill. Either way, these early adopters are leading Aotearoa's decarbonisation efforts and creating a demand for regenerative land management that will simultaneously increase our resilience.
Photography by the wonderful Nia Turley. Ekos did not request this post or compensate me in any way - they just kindly sent me the info I requested! I think Ekos is excellent, and if you’re keen on a few online treats now and then I hope this will encourage you to check it out and consider offsetting those new shoes!