The Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual General Assembly meeting strives to address, confirm and take action on the social, economic and environmental issues that matter most to its engaged membership. June’s GA meeting in Portland, Oregon certainly accomplished this – on the second day of GA, the US Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage was announced, and the GA schedule for the day turned to celebration of this ground-breaking event.
The Portland GA also affirmed the membership’s support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, following the massacre at the bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. General Assembly members passed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) on the final afternoon of GA, urging congregants to “join the fight for racial justice against the harsh racist practices to which many black people are exposed.”
This year’s GA also reached a milestone in the event’s environmental commitments by achieving 100% carbon offsetting of the carbon emissions produced by the five-day event. Each year since 2006, GA attendees have been given the option to make a donation to offset their per-person portion of the event’s overall carbon emissions associated with attendee travel, venue and hotel room energy consumption, local transportation, meals, waste management and shipping.
In recent years, GA attendee donations offset about half of the event’s total overall carbon emissions, but this year, UUA decided to make a commitment to offset the entire event’s carbon emissions. Working with long-time partners sustainable events planner MeetGreen and Carbonfund.org Foundation, UUA’s team calculated the GA event’s total greenhouse gases then budgeted the donation required to offset the entire 2925.4 metric tonnes – about 6.5 million pounds – of carbon emissions. Carbonfund.org used UUA’s carbon offset donation to purchase and permanently retire the total corresponding carbon credits in the US-based Truck Stop Electrification project in order to fully offset UUA GA event emissions. This innovative project provides long-haul truckers with an electricity-powered device to run their cab’s heating, cooling and electronics, thus allowing the driver to turn off the engine and avoid idling on diesel fuel during rest and sleep hours, saving millions of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, improving resting conditions for drivers and air quality while lowering noise levels at truck stops with these installations.
The UUA continues to lead in bulding a better way for its members and their communities, and achieving this important goal of 100% carbon offsets for its General Assembly event marks another milestone in the UUA’s commitments to sustainability. Carbonfund.org is honored to partner with UUA and MeetGreen in this important initiative.
The New Year is a great time for individuals and businesses to reevaluate their recycling efforts and overall carbon footprint and seek to reduce their impact every day. Currently less than 35% of US households recycle. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides great information about how to increase recycling efforts in your everyday living, and how your efforts will help your community.
Paper Culture, a Carbonfree® Business Partner for the past seven years, and online retailer of personalized cards, gifts and wall décor, evaluates and optimizes reductions in their carbon footprint on a regular basis. Through its seven-year participation in the Carbonfree® Business Partnership, Paper Culture has neutralized operational emissions equivalent to the carbon dioxide sequestered by planting 12,615 tree seedlings, then growing those trees for ten years.
They make sure that all of their business practices fall under their four pillars for sustainable operations (aka T.R.E.E):
1. Trees – Plant a tree with every order
2. Responsibility – Offer only eco-friendly products
3. Ethos – Operate sustainable business practices
4. Education – Help through community outreach and teaching
After evaluating the packaging in which products were sent to customers, the folks at Paper Culture felt there was an opportunity to engage and reinforce the importance of recycling and the power of planting one single tree. With most of their customers being parents with young kids, they also wanted it to find an interactive approach.
As a result, they came up with the ReversibleBox. The outside of the box is printed with eco-friendly water-based inks and is much more than just pretty typography; it's a reminder of the true impact of trees, from the air we breathe to the natural habitat they provide. On the reverse side of the box is a tree pattern with the recommendation that customers reuse the box the next time they need to send a package, store old photos or any other use they can imagine. In addition, the box contains tree seed packets with planting instructions.
Since the company plants a tree with every order, Paper Culture wanted their customers to be able to plant a tree of their own so they could enjoy and teach the benefits to the next generation.
Paper Culture CEO & Co-founder Christopher Wu says, "We are in a fortunate position to be able to connect to the future generations through our customers. We loved the idea of parents and their kids planting trees together, which creates both a teaching moment and the appreciation for one of earth's finest gifts."
Since the inception in 2009, Paper Culture has been providing modern and eco-friendly products, including personalized holiday cards, birth announcements, birthday invitations, gifts and wall decor. Carbonfund.org appreciates Paper Culture's ongoing commitment to reducing and neutralizing its operational emissions through its support of Carbonfund.org's reforestation projects around the world.
Among the benefits of our Carbonfree® Business Partnership for small companies are program affordability, applicability to businesses in all industries, and ease of utilizing the program benefits. The program simplifies the process of neutralizing operational emissions and creates the opportunity for any business to become carbon neutral.
A great example of a small business that recognized these benefits is Brynmorgen Press, a small publisher located in Brunswick, Maine that specializes in books and videos about jewelrymaking, metalsmithing, and design. Tim McCreight started Brynmorgen Press in 1985 to provide practical, high quality textbooks on metalworking and design.
“We are committed to creating books, but recognize the need to replenish the trees required for our products,” explains Tim. “By supporting reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects through Carbonfund.org, we have become Carbonfree®.”
To augment its environmental commitments, Brynmorgen Press recycles office waste and prints on recycled paper with soy inks. To conserve energy, Tim and his team wear jackets in the office on cold days and go barefoot in the summer!
Tim McCreight started Brynmorgen Press after he'd published two books with commercial publishers. He thought he might enjoy getting involved in the design and production aspects of publishing, and apparently he was right. Three decades later, he's still writing, designing, and illustrating books, and he’s able to maintain a Carbonfree® operation easily and affordably through Carbonfund.org.