Do you fly a lot for work? Plant a tree to offset your carbon footprint!

Take one round-trip flight between New York and California, and you’ve generated about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year. The ICAO has developed a methodology to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions from air travel for use in offset programs.* We can’t get away completely from flying — most of us need face-time at professional conferences and meetings. However, in certain instances a virtual conference presentation might be feasible.

Most scientists agree that the least expensive and perhaps the easiest way for individuals to help offset the CO2 that they generate in their everyday lives is to plant a tree ... any tree, as long as it is appropriate for the given region and climate. Trees of any shape, size, or genetic origin help absorb CO2.**

Dave Nowak, a researcher at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, New York, has studied the use of trees for carbon sequestration in urban settings across the United States. A 2002 study he co-authored lists the common horse-chestnut, black walnut, American sweetgum, ponderosa pine, red pine, white pine, London plane, Hispaniolan pine, Douglas fir, scarlet oak, red oak, Virginia live oak, and bald cypress as examples of trees especially good at absorbing and storing CO2. Nowak advises urban land managers to avoid trees that require a lot of maintenance, as the burning of fossil fuels to power equipment like trucks and chainsaws will only erase the carbon absorption gains otherwise made.

*The ICAO’s  (International Civil Aviation Calculator) Carbon Emissions Calculator allows passengers to estimate the emissions attributed to their air travel. It is simple to use and requires only a limited amount of information from the user. The methodology applies the best publicly available industry data to account for various factors such as aircraft types, route specific data, passenger load factors and cargo carried.

**Those who wish to help larger tree planting efforts can donate money or time to the National Arbor Day Foundation or American Forests in the U.S., or to the Tree Canada Foundation in Canada.