Eco-conscious consumer demands push companies to find green solutions to pollution problems. Yet, businesses struggle to decipher which tactics effectively shrink their carbon footprint while maintaining a profit. Many companies took a long road to discover what works for them when it comes to successfully sustainable practices.
Indirect environmental practices can be an efficient way to limit carbon in the atmosphere, but they’re not the most effective choices. Rather than offsetting carbon emissions, companies could directly limit their pollution to conserve the global ecosystem. Renewable energy can shrink a company’s carbon footprint while increasing its profitability.
Carbon offsets aim to balance out atmospheric carbon pollution. Many companies rely on this environmental practice to reverse their ecologically degrading production methods. The standard type of carbon offsetting comes from planting trees.
A single mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. An acre of tree-filled land can absorb twice the amount of carbon emitted by an average car. The problem with tree offsetting is the placement of the vegetation.
In America, we outsource many of our products, so our emissions remain in those production regions. The displacement of air pollution is known as carbon leakage. When we offset these emissions, we plant trees in American forests.
The offsetting of carbon eliminates emissions in a region beyond the original pollution site. This reduces global atmospheric pollution, but it does not protect the environment where we outsource our goods from. To successfully offset a product’s emissions, the company must plant trees in the area where production occurs.
The idea of carbon offsetting also contributes to a more significant consumer issue. When companies and consumers believe that products develop without environmental impacts, they continue to purchase goods in large quantities. Because these products emit carbon into the environment, offsetting normalizes the disregard of ecological harm.
As we evaluated above, this conservation method does not directly address the harm conducted in one region. If we consume and contribute to high rates of regional degradation, we contribute to outsourced destruction. Fortunately, there are other methods to reduce environmental degradation beyond carbon offsetting.
The Solar Solution
Carbon offsetting is an indirect method of environmental conservation, and solar energy sourcing is a direct way to eliminate carbon emissions. The Earth absorbs enough of the sun’s energy in one hour to produce the amount of energy needed to sustain global electricity demands annually.
If companies utilized solar panels to fuel their production, they could significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Burning fossil fuels for electricity releases 2 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere every hour of use. Solar energy directly releases zero carbon and indirectly produces 0.07 to 0.2 pounds of carbon equivalent emissions each hour.
When companies rely on solar power to source their energy, they can effectively shrink their carbon footprint. The green shift in power sourcing also contributes to an increase in customer attraction. Many individuals seek out transparency when it comes to sustainable production.
Around 45% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 only purchase eco-friendly goods and services. When companies advertise their use of photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal power, they increase their customer market. They can also increase their profit by lowering production costs.
Businesses that rely on renewable energy to fuel their actions reduce their utility costs by 75% annually. Before switching to solar power sourcing, companies paid $1,950 a month. When using renewable power, these companies spent around $500 monthly for their utilities.
Federal tax credits further reduce production costs. When a business invests in solar panels, the government rewards them with a credit equal to 26% of the system’s price. These savings may return back to the company to increase profits, worker pay, and benefits.
Both solar energy sources and carbon offsetting have environmentally beneficial properties. To increase the overall sustainability of a business, it can adopt both practices. Combining these two business features can limit atmospheric pollution, improve profitability, reduce electricity costs, and shrink an organization’s carbon footprint.
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co.