A Positive Step: Offsetting Your Carbon Footprint

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is committed to becoming carbon neutral no later than 2050. To achieve this, the campus and community must take ownership of that commitment — and faculty, students, and staff can do their part as individuals. One way is to purchase carbon offsets for travel or other actions that have measurable emissions.

Offsetting your carbon footprint is becoming easier to do — and at less than $10 for a 2,000-mile flight, it is a cost-effective way for you to personally pay for your emissions impact even if your grant or government fund won’t cover offsets (many do not).

This page offers a four-step guide to 1) determining the amount of carbon to offset, and 2) purchasing high-standard offsets.

How Can I Reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions?

One of the most sustainable options is to avoid air travel, and instead teleconference or choose a lower-carbon alternative such as a bus or train. If flying is required, it is possible to make sustainable choices to reduce the amount of carbon pollution generated as a result. Takeoff and landing require the most fuel during a flight, so eliminating connections by choosing direct flights can help reduce carbon emissions. An additional way to reduce GHG pollution is to pack lightly Heavier airplanes require greater fuel consumption. For more information on sustainable and alternative transportation options to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, visit our sustainable and alternative transportation page.

Despite Best Efforts, I Have to Travel for Work at Times. How Do I Offset the Related Emissions?

Step 1: When considering a flight, the first step is to check to see if the airline offers the option to pay a surcharge based on the miles to be traveled. For example:

Step 2: It is important to understand the impact of your travel and lifestyle choices by measuring your carbon footprint. Since not all airlines provide the opportunity to purchase a carbon offset, you can use the following calculator to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere based on the mileage of your journey: https://sustainabletravel.org/our-work/carbon-offsets/calculate-footprint/.

Step 3: Visit one of the following links to purchase offsets. These provide options to fund various projects either domestically or internationally (e.g., methane capture, organic waste digestion, forest regeneration, clean water access, solar or wind projects, secure and sustainable agricultural practices, etc.). Optimize your offsets by funding more than your journey and choosing projects that support sustainable development in addition to carbon capture or reduction. For example, projects that create local jobs, improve public health and education, and benefit local communities. We recommend the following two sites to search for a certified carbon offset project based on their stringent standards, measuring requirements, and processes:

Step 4: Fill out our short survey (on this page, or via the link below) to tell us about your offset purchase (reason for purchase, amount, what type of offset, why you did it, and why it is important!). We will want to feature you in our communications efforts to help encourage others to make sustainable choices. The survey >>>


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