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Go Zero: One Simple Way Anyone Can Help Stop Global Warming
Feel powerless in the fight against global warming? An innovative program launched by Gaiam and The Conservation Fund may help change your mindset.
The first company to launch a carbon-neutral order-shipping program, Gaiam is giving consumers a simple yet significant way to help protect the environment with carbon offsets to help slow global warming.The Go Zero® program lets customers add a small, tax-deductible donation at checkout that goes toward planting trees. The trees offset the carbon dioxide emissions that result from shipping the order, helping to make a difference in the race against global climate change.
Gaiam is also offering “The Gift of Zero,” a gift certificate that allows people to purchase trees to be planted in the recipient’s name.
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The average American’s lifestyle, including activities from driving gasoline-powered vehicles to air travel to powering your home, produces approximately 20 tons of CO2 every year. As climate change threatens to devastate our environment and dramatically alter our way of life, experts say carbon-offsetting is an important addition to efforts worldwide to reduce the amount of carbon being pumped into our atmosphere.
How can you make a difference with just one tree?
Gaiam's Go Zero program is based on a simple idea: the power of one. From melting ice caps to rising sea levels to more intense natural disasters, global warming is a complex issue with enormous consequences.
But there are stories of real change. California’s recent $3 billion solar initiative and its commitment to cut back carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2025 holds the potential for true mitigation of global climate change. California is the 6th biggest economy in the world after the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and France, and current plans for California to form a global climate change alliance with nine New England States will make this new entity the third largest economy in the world – one that will be committed to true greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Another story points more directly to the power of one. NASA reported in spring 2006 that Earth’s ozone recovery in the upper stratosphere can be explained almost entirely by reductions over the past 20 years in the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — such as the old freon-based air conditioners in cars and refrigerators.
Programs like Go Zero offer a clear, tangible way for everyday consumers to contribute to solutions.
That vision seems to be taking shape. Since launching the program in mid-2006, Gaiam and its customers have already funded the planting of more than 100,000 trees. One of our Gaiam Groves, the thriving Marias des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas, is shown at right one year after it was planted. That's Conservation Fund Carbon Director John Rogers with the shovel, getting right in there and tending one of the saplings' soil.
Go Zero has also been covered by major press including The New York Times and the CBS Early Show. And carbon-zero programs are gaining support among celebrities: George Clooney's film Syriana was a carbon-neutral production, and a recent Vanity Fair article included a number of high-profile environmental activists who have “gone zero” — including actors Daryl Hannah, Minnie Driver, Martin Short, Ed Begley, Jr., and Nia Vardalos.
The strong response has also included calls to Gaiam from other companies seeking advice on how to implement their own Go Zero program. "Gaiam is often looked to by other companies for innovative programs to help the environment,” says Chris Fisher, Gaiam's Go Zero program director. "So we’re very pleased to act as an example of the success of The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program.”
Matching CO2 Output with CO2-Sequestering Trees
Launched in 2005, The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program measures the carbon dioxide emissions of virtually any slice of life, including product shipping, and plants trees to absorb the amount of carbon dioxide those activities generate, "zeroing out" their carbon-emissions impact.
As the "Gaiam Groves" grow, Go Zero trees will help fight climate change — as well as restore wildlife habitat, improve air and water quality, expand recreational opportunities and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Gaiam has also joined with The Conservation Fund to offset the climate change impact of its corporate operations. Through the Go Zero program, Gaiam can measure the carbon dioxide emissions from office energy use, staff travel and more — and then make a donation to the Fund to plant trees. Individuals can follow suit, calculating their personal climate-change footprint from air and auto travel, home energy and other common activities.
Reforesting a Crucial Landscape
The first Gaiam Grove was filled within just a few months through contributions by Gaiam and its customers, which now are funding the planting of several additonal groves. The first grove is located in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, an area that has lost more than 20 million acres of bottomland hardwood forest in the last century.
Nearly a century ago, this land was converted from forestland to agricultural fields as a way of capitalizing on an emerging soybean market. Unfortunately, the area's natural resources were not designed to support such a massive transformation. Today, most of this area stands fallow and unproductive. The Go Zero reforestation effort aims to restore the integrity of these natural landscapes to their original form.
The Conservation Fund plants only native trees — species indigenous to the area being reforested. In the lower Mississippi River Valley, this means the Fund is planting bottomland hardwood species such as cypress and oak.
Most Go Zero trees are planted in large-scale tracts by leading experts and public agencies. Part of The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program is to educate individuals of every age about the importance of restoring forestland as part of the effort to address climate change. While the issue of global warming can be extremely complex, Go Zero is a simple solution that even young students can understand. The way to save the planet is one tree at a time.
Why This Carbon Program?
What makes Go Zero unique starts with simplicity: It's perhaps the easiest way to do something to mitigate climate change. But equally important is knowing your money goes where you meant it to. The Conservation Fund has been consistently recognized as a top-rated environmental nonprofit by the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator for its unsurpassed efficiency and effectiveness.
Since 1985, The Conservation Fund has protected more than 6 million acres of America’s most important landscapes and waterways — including national parks and wildlife refuges, forests, recreation areas and working ranches.
Watch this video to see how The Fund's partnership with Gaiam has helped address habitat loss and climate change.