What Does Carbon Neutral Mean?

Luci Sitting on Outdoor Couch - What does Carbon Neutral Mean?

If you hear anything about sustainable living, you probably quickly get overwhelmed with unknown terms and phrases. So let’s start a simple conversation here about these, beginning with: what does carbon neutral mean?

B-Corp, carbon neutral, clean, green washing, carbon footprint, closed loop, recycled, upcycled, fair trade, etc., etc. Some of these terms are becoming more common, but some of them are still a big mystery. Even if you know they are positive or negative words, could you really explain what they are?

Yeah, I know. Me either! Well, except I’m starting to learn – largely thanks to partnering with companies and brands concerned with sustainable living actually.

For this post on what does carbon neutral mean, Neutrall – they sell upcycled glassware – is helping us understand the term and giving us a great example of how their company became carbon neutral!

UPDATE: Neutrall has since gone out of business.

Luci Sitting on Outdoor Couch - What does Carbon Neutral Mean?

What does Carbon Neutral Mean?

In a short sentence, being carbon neutral means that a company is producing no new amount of carbon dioxide from beginning of production to your home.

If you read that closely, it already got confusing a bit, didn’t it?

Right. So basically nearly every kind of product requires some amount of carbon dioxide emission. These emissions must be calculated and then companies have to compensate somehow – usually spending dollars to support efforts to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (e.g. reforestation efforts).

Not only do these emissions happen when making a product, but they can happen just delivering the product to stores or your house. They also come from packaging if the packaging is sent to the landfill (even if it’s recyclable but it heads to the landfill).

Hopefully that makes a little more sense, but let’s look at Neutrall and see how they’re carbon neutral – I think an example is the best way to understand what carbon neutral means!

Carbon Neutral Company - upcycled drinking glasses

Carbon Neutral Glassware

Let’s meet Neutrall. Neutrall is an Austin-based company selling upcycled drinking glasses made from Topo Chico bottles of mineral water.

Instead of these bottles ending up in the landfill, they’re saved from local restaurants and turned into eco-friendly drinking glasses for kiddos and adults alike!

How is Neutrall Carbon Neutral?

Every company seeking to be carbon neutral has different criteria for becoming so because every company’s product and process are different.

For Neutrall, here are the ways they’re ensuring that they are producing a net zero amount of carbon dioxide…

Upcycled Drinking Glasses

First off Neutrall is saving something from heading to the landfill – a lot of somethings actually! And because these items are saved in the US and turned into drinking glasses in the US, they aren’t traveling thousands of miles to get to us!

Additionally glass can be infinitely recycled (as opposed to cardboard and plastic which have a limit on times they can be recycled).

Carbon Neutral Shipping

One of the big problems with emissions is shipping – packaging and the modes of transportation.

Neutrall’s packaging is made of corn starch (totally compostable at home or dissolvable in water) and cardboard (easily recycled). No plastic packaging to recycle or throw away!

So then what about shipping? Neutrall’s order fulfillment partners are ShipBob and Pachama who offer carbon neutral shipping options.

Carbon neutral shipping is basically the practice of paying for emissions offsets. For each package sent, the expected emissions are calculated and then a business pays to support reforestation projects – helping more natural forestation around the world to help our globe’s ecosystem.

This is an extra cost to companies, cutting into their profit. When a company participates in carbon neutral shipping, they’re making an effort to limit their impact on our environment!

Anything Else?

Yes, one last thing. To ensure they are truly carbon neutral, the company donates 50¢ for every purchase to their Neutrall Carbon Offset Fund.

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