Scattered around in our “How to Reduce Emissions” page, you will find solutions and recommendations to counteract and reduce your carbon emitting activities. But, providing solutions to these problems is such a high priority for the ZEN team that we found it necessary to assemble all of our solutions and recommendations into one, simpler page.
Carbon sequestration itself is an emissions reducing activity! But what exactly is carbon sequestration? The US Geological Survey defines it as: “…the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.” There are multiple ways to do this but the most common and available to the public is through plants. Here comes a quick refresher from middle school, basically all plants survive due to a process called photosynthesis. In this process, they take in sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, and they use it to make sucrose (the nutrient they need to survive) and oxygen (which is released back into the atmosphere for the animals to enjoy). This is one of the most important systems that allow for life on Earth to exist as we know it for many reasons, but the important aspect in terms of carbon sequestration is that plants literally breathe in carbon dioxide and then poop out oxygen. Imagine if you had a machine that sits outside (or even inside) your home and sucks the carbon strait out of the atmosphere, oh and it also allows you to breathe, yep that’s plants, it’s actually that easy. The purpose of this quick biology refresher is to stress one important point, we can positively impact our carbon footprint simply by planting more trees and gardens!!
If you walk away from this page having learned just one thing, we hope that it is this: the best thing that you can do is simply to maintain flourishing plant life anywhere that you can; this could mean having a lawn (the right way, no fertilizers or other artificial growth supplements), having trees and planting more when you can, having a garden, or just anything that promotes plant growth. But if you really want to improve your impact, there is lots more to know. In Boulder, the best method for us to sequester carbon is to ensure the prosperity of the native plant life and plant more when we can. A native tree that you may have heard of is called the ponderosa pine, this conifer tree has very long and deep roots which help it sequester the most carbon. When they are fully mature, one ponderosa pine can sequester around 48 lbs of carbon per year. Using a low estimate that there are around 400 trees per acre in a conifer forest, and 2 million acres of forest in Colorado, conifer trees currently sequester over 19 million tons of carbon per year!
Green roofs are an amazing solution to many problems including environmental, aesthetic, and financial. Basically, a green roof is a roof of a building that is partially, or completely covered by vegetation, planted over a waterproofing membrane. One major benefit of green roofs connects directly to the last section, a roof covered with plants sequesters carbon and reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere. This is an amazing environmental benefit of green roofs but they also provide other, practical, benefits. For starters, check out how cool they look! Additionally, green roofs greatly improve the lifespan and the protection that a building or household receives from the roof. Green roofs detain storm water better than a regular roof and stay waterproof for up to 3 times longer. Green roofs can also reduce your energy bill by naturally provide cooling on a hot day and act as good insulation for cold winter days. Green roofs also provide great natural protection from hail and other damage, typically better than regular roofs. In the spirit of transparency, we typically like to provide numbers in order to prove our claims, but in the case of green roofs, there are too many factors at play. The amount of benefit that a home or business can receive from a green roof depends on the location, how the building is built, what plants are used, etc. But we will promise you one thing, it can’t hurt. If you are considering a green roof, check out some of these great local options:
Flight offset programs work by people donating money to the program each time they take a flight (or yearly depending on the program), the amount depends on factors such as the length of the flight, and then the money goes towards offsetting the carbon produced from the flight in other ways. Currently, the ZEN team is working on creating a local flight offset program in order to bring some of the benefits closer to home. Until we can do this, here are some awesome flight offset recommendations that you can try:
Boulder, and the rest of the world, has a ton of resources and farms that are sustainably producing agriculture and providing awesome options for you to eat the foods that you love and still feel good about your environmental impacts. Because there are so many great options, we have provided you with this handy guide for where to look for different foods, check it out!