My path to a CO2 negative life
Like most people, I care about the environment and the climate, and in 2018, I decided that my life should not contribute to higher CO2 levels and higher temperatures.
In my opinion, it's like in a company: You can raise income or lower your costs to improve your budget. I can lower my CO2 emission or I can make sure that whatever CO2 emission I'm responsible for, is somehow absorbed by other means.
Some people tell me to stop eating meat, stop buying new clothes, don't spend so much time online, and definitely don't fly! But I'm not ready to give all of that up. I love travelling and I want to keep exploring the world. Instead, I've chosen to buy trees. According to a lot of studies, trees are very good at sucking up CO2 and turn it into oxygen.
So I'm planting trees. Or rather, I'm buying trees and I leave the dirty work to someone else. And I went kinda nerdy to make sure that I buy enough trees to help the planet.
During 40 years, one tree will absorb one ton of CO2. Of course, this is on average - some trees live longer, some don't. So how many trees do I need to buy? And how long will it take, before my life turns CO2 negative? I need a spreadsheet to figure that out - and you can see it further down this page.
I used this website to find out how much CO2 emission I'm responsible for in the country I'm living in. Again, this is average, and I might be responsible for more or less. Since I don't own a car, I assume that I'm not above average. But I travel a lot, so I had to take that into consideration. Luckily, I register all my flights on Flightradar24 and the site calculates the CO2 emissions on those flights. I don't know how they do that or if it's accurate, but I've decided to trust them.
All these numbers go into the spreadsheet and I do a bit of calculation. First, let me show you a chart with the yearly emission and absorbtion. You'll see that my life is pretty boring until 2008 where I start flying and my total CO2 emission more than triples. But in 2018, 'my' trees kick in and the green line shows that absorption is now higher than emission:
So I'm good, right? No, because I still have a lot to make up for, so I had to accumulate the emissions and the absorbtion to figure out when my life becomes CO2 negative. Thankfully, it's not that far away:
These charts, and the spreadsheet further down, will update automatically as I buy more trees. Because even though I'm already on the right track and my life WILL become CO2 negative, I continue to buy trees to make sure that it happens as soon as possible. I buy the trees from One Tree Planted and they're one US dollar each. And yes, there is another unknown there - I don't know how long it takes for them to plant the trees. This is not taken into account in my calculations. It's not perfect, but I can only do so much...