2006 word of the year? "Carbon Neutral"

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I just found out that the Oxford Dictionary’s 2006 word of the year was ‘Carbon Neutral.’ This joins the long list of iconic entries from previous years, such as “podcast” and “blog,” and it beat out “funner,” “elbow bump” and “dwarf planet” for the 2006 honour.

According to Erin McKean, editor in chief of the New American Oxford Dictionary, “When you see first graders trying to make their classrooms carbon neutral, you know the word has become mainstream.” This begs the question, what exactly is “carbon neutral” and how do you get there?

Being carbon neutral is all about understanding the environmental impact that your carbon emitting actions have on the earth, and finding a way to reduce that impact, or at least balance it out. Common activities like driving, flying and purchasing imported goods release tonnes of greenhouse gas into the air and are some of the biggest contributors to the increase in greenhouse gas.

Your first line of attack would ideally be to replace your vehicle with a hybrid, take the train rather than fly and buy local goods only. For most of us, however, these are not realistic or achievable goals today (although innovation and policy are working to make them just that). So, in the meantime, what to do? You can drive less, walk more and purchase locally as much as possible and you can also visit DrivingGreen.com, which will allow you to purchase carbon credits that will assist in balancing your carbon emitting activity.

Carbon credits are carbon emission reductions which are measured in units and are certified (called CER’s). One CER equals one tonne of carbon dioxide reduction and can take the form of a balancing activity such as reforestation, funding renewable energy projects or putting money into energy conservation projects. DrivingGreen.com offers you the ability to offset driving, flying and even hosting an event.

I was surprised at how little it cost for me to offset my return trip home over Christmas ($40USD). While offsetting your carbon emissions is a positive step, the best way to deal with increasing greenhouse gas is to try to reduce the release of them in the first place. When that’s not possible, take a trip to your computer and plant a tree from the comfort of your own home.

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