Partnering to check your carbon footprint
What do the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and the Florida Gators Athletic Association have in common? They are both senior partners with We Are Neutral, sharing the idea of neutralizing their generated carbon emissions and their impact on the environment. To offset their carbon footprint, these organizations along with multiple other businesses and residences partner with Gainesville's 10 year old non-profit, We Are Neutral.
"Our non-profit's mission is to remind everyone that
we are creative and resourceful earth-givers.
We do this by giving individuals and businesses
an opportunity to inspire civic leaders with meaningful,
local carbon offset programs"
- Grace Ebner
"We love to help individuals and businesses better understand their carbon footprint. It's exciting to see people choose to take responsibility for their utility consumption and support our community and planet," Said We Are Neutral Accounts Manager, Grace Ebner.
Recently graduated from UF with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainability Studies with minors in Business Administration and Environmental Science, Grace is dedicating her professional life with the objective of educating people and communities on the importance of giving back to the Earth through programs such as meaningful carbon offsets.
Carbon neutral, also called carbon neutrality, is a term used to describe the action of organizations, businesses and individuals taking action to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as each put in to it. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to restore balance. For example, a business may plant trees in different places around the world to offset the electricity the business uses. This practice is often called a carbon offset or offsetting a carbon footprint.
"We Are Neutral's approach to carbon neutrality began in Puerto Rico with We Are Neutral's Founder, Jacob Cravey.' Grace said. "Jacob was living as a surf shop business owner in Rincon, Puerto Rico wondering what his life would be like if 10 years down the road. He felt most people had only taken from the Earth and he wanted to contribute meaningfully to the world." Grace added.
Mr. Cravey founded Earth Givers, Inc., We Are Neutral's parent non-profit organization, and fertile seeds were put in place to not only make a difference in Puerto Rico, but world-wide.
Earth Givers' first initiative was a project called Fanm Kap Plante, or "Women Who Plant," to provide women in Haiti with resources to plant fruit-bearing trees to support their families.
While this project is not the focus of We Are Neutral's operations, We Are Neutral's board of directors still holds the project dear to their hearts with the idea of helping communities become better stewards of their natural resources.
"Our non-profit's mission is to remind everyone that we are all innately creative and resourceful earth-givers. We do this by giving individuals and businesses an opportunity to distinguish themselves as inspirational leaders through our meaningful, local carbon offset programs," Grace said.
"Our offsets currently support free-of-charge home energy upgrades for low-income residents and indigenous tree plantings on local conservation lands. We also support a methane abatement project at a local landfill that captures methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more heat-trapping than carbon," Grace added.
Ms. Ebner explained how once established as a carbon neutral partner, businesses can turn their storefronts into educational platforms that communicate their values, create connections with patrons, and empower people with the message that creating the carbon neutral community we want starts with us. Residents who choose to offset their carbon footprint can receive discounts at participating carbon neutral business partners.
Gainesville, Florida is the center of We Are Neutral's carbon offset and reduction initiatives. However, We Are Neutral also partners with the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee to help offset their carbon footprint. Every year, the We Are Neutral team travels up to Tennessee to retrofit low-income homes in the area.
"Our booth in Bonnaroo's PlantRoo has been readily accepted by the fest go-ers eager to make a difference in their world," Grace said
We Are Neutral is also active in local high schools by creating education outreach programs to engage the next generation in understanding the necessity of being important care-givers for our planet.
Combining their educational programs with their engagement of core community partners, the We Are Neutral team is satisfying their mission goals and objectives in a smart positive process.
"It is all about choosing to be accountable for your impact and actively making choices to restore the balance on this planet we all live on and that is feeling the effects of climate change," Grace closed with in a smart, confident tone of voice.
"So when can I calculate your home's carbon footprint and help you better understand the carbon emissions you are creating, Mike?"