Exploring carbon offsetting

By Chloe Bullock
August 19, 2020

BIID registered Chloe Bullock, of Materialise Interiors, introduces the organisations that are making it easy for us to offset our carbon footprint by planting trees

I’m really lucky that early in my career I was part of the design team at the Body Shop’s head office.  It was the middle of the 90s. The Body Shop was expanding rapidly and I found myself in an ethical company at an exciting time.  I loved it.  The ethics of the company were real and flowed through everything we did – right down to avoiding filling up with fuel from Shell if we were using a hire car for business travel.  As a specifier of a wide range of materials for the company globally, it was the most fantastic education in ethics and sustainability for me.

After 10 years I felt I needed new challenges and set up on my own.  Without realising, all I had learnt at The Body Shop was carrying through into my own business.  How could it not? This ethical grounding made so much sense – the fair treatment of people, the planet and its animals – whilst conducting a business.

In her book How to Save the World for Free, Natalie Fee tells us “…if the aviation sector was a country – it would be the 7th biggest polluter in the world.” Obviously, this is a pre-pandemic fact.  But it’s an alarming one.

I have been trying to stay on the ground more, but if I do have to fly I offset the carbon produced by the trip.  A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

Fee recommends using the following climate protection websites to calculate the required offset:

Atmos Fair – the flight is calculated and you pay to offset.  Offsetting takes the form of numerous climate protection projects such as energy efficiency, wind energy, hydro and solar power.

Mossy Earth – your flight is calculated by the hour or road trip by distance and you pay for native trees to be planted and/or support the company’s re-wilding projects.

Personally, I am a serial tree planter, including trees planted to offset projects. I love having trees planted and my clients really like it too. I like to give a thank you gift to clients at the end of a project and tree planting in my client’s name makes a perfect gift. So far, I have planted 408 trees doing this.

The initiatives I like to use include: One Tree Planted which has lots of global projects to choose from.  Earlier in the year I was supporting its Australian tree planting, following the devastating bush fires.  And I like their project with PETA Founder Jane Goodall – planting in the Albertine Rift forests of Uganda. The Woodland Trust’s scheme supports UK woodlands and you receive a map showing where your trees have been planted if you want to visit them. Another idea is Green Earth Appeal’s carbon free dining initiative, which is good for my restaurant clients to offer diners. They can offset the food miles of a meal by adding £1 to their bill for a fruit tree in the developing world.