Here we explain how we reduce the impact that shipping our products to you has on the environment. Because we want to be transparent, we share our thoughts and calculations with you. Buckle up, we are going to walk you through the details!
Greenhouse gas emissions are gases that are released into the environment and that share the ability to absorb heat. This heat originates from the Earth’s surface, clouds and the sun. The gases are present in the earth’s atmosphere. A significant part of these gases is released by human activity, for example by your car’s motor through the exhaust. While the gases are floating in the atmosphere, they slowly age, decompose and transform into other greenhouse gases by means of chemical reactions. During all of their different “life stages”, greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere.
There are differences between greenhouse gases: Not all gases absorb heat in the same way. Not all gases survive in the atmosphere for the same amount of time. To compare gases and their effect on the atmosphere, scientists came up with the notion of a “CO2-equivalent” quantity or concentration of gas. A small quantity or concentration of Methane has the same thermal effect on the atmosphere as a big quantity or concentration of CO2 because Methane traps more heat for a longer time. CO2 (carbon dioxide) is used as a reference for greenhouse gases because its effects on the atmosphere are very well studied and understood. The Guardian has more on comparing different greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse gas emissions will probably change life on Earth because they make the atmosphere’s temperature rise. This global warming has probably a bad impact on humans and animals alike because it changes the habitat that we have developed and thrived in until now. NASA has a gallery of satellite images showing some images of how climate (and other) changes affect the surface of the Earth today.
Clearly, we cannot avoid the trend of e-commerce and the resulting increase shipping that causes greenhouse gas emissions. But we can (and want to) help to decrease the detrimental effects that e-commerce has on our climate. So: Let’s get started and see how many greenhouse gases your shipment actually causes and how we can reduce your shipment’s impact.
This is a difficult question to answer and it is not easy to obtain accurate data. In fact, a company needs significant resources to assess how much greenhouse gas emissions it produces. We mostly ship via USPS and need to rely on their data to figure out how many emissions they cause.
While USPS publishes a sustainability report, it does not explicitly state how many emissions are caused per shipment. Luckily there is the International Post Corporation (IPC), an association of 24 national postal services, which the USPS is part of.
In its “Postal Sector Sustainability Report”, the IPC looks at how much CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions the delivery of shipments cause (2017 report, Table 1). In 2016, every letter caused 25.8 grams (0.91 oz) and every parcel 436.0 grams (15.38 oz) CO2(-equivalent) emissions. This number reflects the emissions of all 24 national postal services but does not go into detail with the USPS’ emissions.
With this uncertainty and our aim to offset your shipping’s emissions, it makes only sense to introduce some safety factors, so we can be sure that we offset at least the emissions that your shipment causes. Given the relatively large size of the US, the relatively large size of our letters, our aim to not underestimate, but also USPS’ own sustainability efforts, we believe that a safety factor of 2.0 is adequate. Thus, Nature’s Steps will offset 2.0*25.8 grams = 51.6 grams per letter and 2.0*436.0 = 872.0 grams per parcel that we ship out.
To prevent climate change, it clearly seems like a good idea not to cause emissions in the first place. However, as a business we cannot survive without shipping products to you. Thus, we do not have any chance other than trying to make up for the emissions that your shipment causes.
This is where carbon offsets come in. Carbon offsets are certificates that anyone can buy. The certificate represents a promise by the seller of the certificate to invest money or build projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a certain amount. The amount is specified on the certificate. For example, you can buy a certificate to offset 1 metric ton of CO2.
The market for carbon offset certificates is wild. There are many organizations offering such certificates, some of which are not overseen by a third, independent party. The lack of oversight sometimes means that the money is not invested properly into offsetting carbon emissions.
For us, it is important to make sure that our money goes where it is supposed to go: To the carbon offsetting projects. For this reason, we picked the “Carbonfund.org Foundation” as our offset provider. Carbonfund.org is a non-profit organization that has received high marks for its transparency. The non-profit relies heavily on third-party certifications, validations, and audits to make sure it actually delivers on its promise to offset carbon emissions. We also think they have a good FAQ page (https://carbonfund.org/faq/) that may answer any remaining questions you have.
Disclaimer: Nature’s Steps, LLC is in no way affiliated with, authorized, maintained, sponsored or endorsed by the Carbonfund.org or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.
Please see the certificate below as a proof that we follow up on our promise to offset shipping carbon emissions.