As green as you try to live, sometimes there's just no getting around hurting the environment. Take holiday travel for example. You know that those jumbo jets aren't exactly emitting pine-scented clean air, but you have to get the family to grandma's house some way. And until you can transport yourself Star Trek style, you'll have to find a way of creating a karmic balance between traveling and the environment. How will you do it? Simply by off setting the emissions created by traveling in the first place.
Every time you fly or drive your car, carbon dioxide is released from fossil fuels like gas and oil. When you add pollutants into the atmosphere it's actually possible to subtract them by purchasing 'carbon offsets'. Basically carbon offset is a fancy term for donating your money to helping environmental projects and causes such as wind farms, forest building, solar installations and energy efficient projects. This will give you peace of mind that, even though you're part of the problem, you're also helping to provide a solution. This balances the scale to make your carbon footprint a bit smaller.
And although maybe you've never heard of going carbon neutral, there are actually quite a few people and organizations paving way for the trend. Many large companies such as Wells Fargo and Whole Foods purchase renewable energy certificates to offset their electricity use. Sporting events such as the Olympics and Super Bowl are going carbon neutral. And the film industry (full of earth-loving liberals) has started offsetting emissions caused by movie productions for films such as Syriana and The Day After Tomorrow. Actors themselves are also getting involved. Jake Gyllenhaal reportedly spent around $10,000 to have trees planted in Mozambique to off set his emissions. And the Carbon Neutral Company (http://carbonneutral.com), based in London, has planted trees for Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio. Brad Pitt reportedly paid Future Forests, another UK company (http://www.futureforests.co.uk/), to off set his carbon footprint when his flies for work.
Besides the two vendors mentioned above, both from the UK, there are a few good American companies out there that will allow you to offset your carbon emissions. Most are tax deductible too (which means off setting emissions makes good sense for the earth and your wallet). So whether you decide to go with one across the pond or choose one in the states, you can hunt around to find a one that suits your needs. LiveNeutral (http://www.liveneutral.com) is nonprofit and allows you to offset both driving and air travel emissions. Terrapass (http://www.terrapass.com/) helps you offset your car and plane greenhouse gas emissions as well pollution caused by your home or fancy fall wedding. You can even purchase a gift of off setting emissions for someone as green (or more green) than you are. or someone you're trying to train to go green. Native American majority-owned NativeEnergy (http://www.nativeenergy.com/) is another great nonprofit choice.
Since many of us rent cars during the holiday season, try being a little more proactive about what type of car you get. With SUV purchases on the decline and hybrids becoming more popular than ever, it's no surprise that the rental car companies are scrambling to catch up. Enterprise Rent-A-Car recently purchased 3,000 Toyota Prius hybrids and has 1,500 more on order. It may cost you a little more than renting a standard-sized car, but you'll save gas money while saving the world.