Making Sense of Climate Positive Labels
Do a quick Google search of carbon footprint, and you’ll likely see a ton of headlines about carbon reduction, carbon neutrality, carbon negativity, and carbon sequestering. What do all of these phrases mean, and why are they showing up on product labels?
The measure of how much carbon you add to the atmosphere through daily activities and consumer choices is called your carbon footprint.
Carbon negativity, neutrality, and sequestration are all ways companies and consumers can help reduce emissions and slow climate change.
Here we dig into the details of these terms and how climate positive labels can guide us in making more sustainable choices.
Did you know?
In one year, just one tree can absorb up to 48lbs of carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen.
Labels and ads are constantly touting phrases like "carbon neutral" and "planet positive," but what does that really mean? It might seem like a lot of talk, but there is substance behind those claims. Knowing more about carbon neutrality (and negativity) can help us all make positive changes for the planet.
Photo by Helena Hertz on Unsplash
Off To A Slow Start
When many countries adopted the Paris Climate Agreement, there was great hope that we would see a reduction in global carbon emissions. However, the rate of decreasing those emissions was painfully slow, that is until the Coronavirus lockdowns.
Over the past year, we have seen carbon emissions drop drastically. Globally reductions have been reported about 7% less than they were in 2019. This is terrific news for the health of our planet, and this “silver lining” to a horrendous global event has been a rallying cry for many environmental advocates and major companies.
How Big Is Your Footprint?
The term carbon footprint came about as a way to measure how our actions, choices, and consumption habits contribute to greenhouse gasses (which contribute to climate change). As individuals, most of our carbon footprint is created by transportation, such as airplane travel or car travel. That's great news if you've been working remotely from home.
There are plenty of other simple ways to help reduce your carbon footprint, and while we can make an impact by changing our daily habits, large-scale production, manufacturing, and transportation are some of the biggest carbon producers.
That means it's high time to consider buying products that have minimal impact on the planet. Choosing products that use sustainably grown or recycled materials. One of many ways we try to minimize our impact on the planet is through using sustainably grown Eucalyptus pulp to produce our Tree Napper fabric.
The process of growing this material uses no chemical fertilizers or irrigation. And Tencel is 100% biodegradable, ensuring that the impact on the environment is as minimal as possible.
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash
Change Is In The Air
Many companies are taking notice of consumer demands and changing their ways to help keep our earth at its best. When you’re making a purchase, keeping sustainability and the planet in mind is more crucial than ever. Look for brands that have a sustainability pledge and are transparent in their production methods.
With the heightened focus on ways companies are keeping up with their planet promise, you’ve probably come across many carbon-related terms. Let’s break the meaning of these terms down:
This statement on a label means the activity it takes to create the product or service releases net-zero carbon into the air.
This means the same as carbon neutral.
This statement means the process of creating a product or service not only doesn’t contribute any carbon to the atmosphere but removes additional carbon dioxide.
This statement means the same thing as climate positive. It’s the best scenario for the planet
Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash
Neutrality and positivity are usually achieved through purchasing carbon offsets, which means a company will draw on the support of environmental organizations to restore the carbon. Airlines are a good example. They may purchase carbon offsets to restore a portion of tropical rainforest or finance a wind turbine to offset fossil fuels and reduce deforestation for firewood.
Aside from neutrality, positivity, and offsets is the term "carbon sequestering." This relatively new term is a way to remove and store carbon to use in technological applications. Sequestration happens naturally - about 55% of carbon dioxide produced is sequestered (or stored) naturally by the environment. Approximately 25% of carbon emissions have been sequestered by forests, mangroves, grasslands, and farms.
Even the upper layers of the ocean absorb some of the carbon dioxides we emit. Scientists are currently exploring the use of graphene, a raw material used to make tablet and smartphone screens from carbon as a method of sequestration.
There are plenty of eco-conscious, sustainable, and carbon emission-friendly brands to support. From solar panels and recycling programs to LEED certifications and using sustainable materials, companies can make changes big and small that will help us all breathe a little easier.