How to offset your Carbon Footprint

We regularly get asked ‘How do I offset my Carbon Footprint?’ ‘How many trees are required?’ and ‘How much does it cost?’

These are becoming popular questions as people become more concerned about the planet and our impact upon it as humans. It’s amazing to see that people are actively trying to reduce their carbon emissions and to offset the rest.

As individuals, and as a business, we are always mindful of limiting our carbon footprint (you can read our blog post How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint for some ideas). However, as avid travellers and a travel agency, we actively encourage travel and exploring the World so we had to come up with an offsetting solution.

In order to find a balance, and once we have reduced our travel emissions down to a minimum, we work out our carbon emissions and we make a donation to our tree planting partner One Tree Planted in an effort to travel and live more sustainably.

The Mindful Travel Co. team recently toured around Australia and New Zealand and in this blog post we will discuss where our carbon emissions came from, how they built up and how we can offset them.

What are Carbon Emissions?

In a nutshell, Carbon Emissions come from activities like deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas for things like travel, power and fuel. Your own personal contribution is called your carbon footprint. You can read about this in more detail in our blog What is Sustainable Travel?

Essentially, pretty much everything you do emits some kind of greenhouse gas whether it’s driving you car, taking a flight, cooking your food or, quite simply, breathing.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! It’s true that there is a lot of deforestation going on all over the World, with land being cleared of trees in order to make room for farming, palm oil, housing developments etc, however there are plenty of organisations and individuals trying to slow down or reverse this process by planting new trees.

In this blog we will show you how we, as a company and for our customers, work out our own carbon emissions and how we go about offsetting them in an attempt to make our lifestyles more sustainable.

What does it mean to offset your carbon footprint?

Trees and plants absorb the Carbon Dioxide that we excrete and turn it into the Oxygen that we require as a byproduct of Photosynthesis.

They help cool the planet by sucking in and storing harmful greenhouse gases into their trunks, branches, and leaves, and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. In cities, trees can reduce the overall temperature by up to eight degrees Celsius.

Aiding in World reforestation not only helps absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere but trees play a key role in capturing rainwater and reducing the risk of natural disasters like floods and landslides.

As well as this, a single tree can be home to hundreds of species of insect, fungi, moss, mammals, and plants. Depending on the kind of food and shelter they need, different forest animals require different types of habitat. Without trees, forest creatures would have nowhere to call home.

How many trees are required to offset your carbon footprint?

It’s estimated that a single average tree can absorb up to 1 ton of Carbon Dioxide in its lifetime of say 40 years. This might not sound like a lot but, as with all things, life is about balance.

Tipping this balance and increasing our emissions whilst simultaneously cutting down the rainforests is exactly what has got us to this critical point in the first place.

In order to figure out how many trees are required, we first need to calculate carbon emissions by working out any distance travelled by different forms of transport; planes, trains, automobiles and we add this to an estimated carbon footprint for each person (we set this at 0.05 tons per person per day – which is an exaggerated figure) and we pop these numbers into a Carbon Footprint Calculator.

At The Mindful Travel Co., we aim to speed up the offsetting process by planting 4 trees per ton of CO2 emissions, meaning your carbon footprint could be absorbed and turned into lovely Oxygen quite a lot quicker, and reforestation can happen at a much faster rate.

How much does it cost to offset my carbon footprint?

Once we’ve totalled up distanced travelled, plus your daily carbon expenditure, and worked out the total carbon emissions we then make a donation to our tree planting partners, One Tree Planted, who plant trees where they are needed across the World.

One Tree Planted are a non-profit organisation. As an environmental charity, they’re on a mission to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees!

They rely on donations and volunteers to enable trees to be planted all over Asia, North and Latin America, Africa and Australia. One tree costs just $1 USD and you can donate easily via their website.

You can also donate via our fundraising page where we make the our donations on behalf of our customers. You can find it here.

Offsetting our Emissions

In 2019, Emma and I were lucky enough to tour around Australia and New Zealand on the lookout for more amazing tours and activities for our lovely customers.

We were keen to monitor our carbon footprint and to minimise air travel and private travel as much as possible. We, therefore, used a lot of public buses and trains where possible and planned our route to minimise necessary travel.

As I am currently located in England for most of the year, I had to fly over to Brisbane to start our journey. We then flew to Auckland where we collected our economy hire car from Jucy Rentals. We drove to the Coromandel with a couple of our friends and explored the coast as well as Waitomo and Hobbiton before stopping in Rotorua. Missed it? Catch up on Our Kiwi Road Trip.

Here we did a lot of hiking and exploring by foot and parked the car up for a few days. After driving back up to Auckland we flew back to Brisbane and onto Airlie Beach where we were super excited to be joining the Ride to Paradise Whitsundays tour!

This was honestly one of the best trips that we have ever done and you can read about it here. After this touch of luxury, we hopped on an overnight Greyhound bus up to Cairns and from there we spent some time exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. All of the tours we joined were eco-certified and environmentally conscious and we definitely felt that we had found partners with the same vision as us.

After flying back down to the Gold Coast, I then flew home to England where I worked out our carbon footprint for the whole trip so that we could offset our travel emissions.

FLIGHTS = 3.54

London < > Brisbane = 2.62

Gold Coast < > Auckland = 0.61

Brisbane > Proserpine = 0.12

Cairns > Brisbane = 0.19

CAR = 831km = 0.13

Auckland > Coromandel 200km

Coromandel > Waitomo 275km

Waitomo > Rotorua 140km

Rotorua > Auckland 216km

BUS = 687km = 0.07

AKL Airport > City 20km

Airlie Beach > Cairns 621km

Airlie Beach Airport > City 40km

Gilligans > Cairns 6km

TRAIN = 300km = 0.01

BNE Airport > Burleigh Waters 100km

Burleigh Waters > Brisbane Airport 100km

BNE Airport > Burleigh Waters 100km

As you can see from the calculations above, we attempted to use public transport as much as we could because these are much less carbon-heavy options. However, as we always say, these measures are not always possible and this is why we choose to offset these by planting trees and aiding in global reforestation.

On top of transport, we also add 0.05 tons of CO2 to each day and this covers power, food and waste and other daily life emissions. When you’re travelling you tend to eat out more and stay in hotels/hostels which do tend to have a larger carbon footprint than your typical family home.

Total Carbon Footprint for entire trip = 6.05 tons

With our pledge in mind, we have made a donation to plant 24 trees within Austalia in order to offset our emissions of 6.05 tons. You can view our donations on our fundraising page here.

Want to Get Involved?

You can easily work out and offset your own carbon emissions by using our calculator and then making a donation to our fundraising page.

All donors will receive a tree planting certificate and a mention on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Just tag or contact us when you’ve made your payment!