A lightly used 2006 Honda Civic emits about 8,393 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
That’s 8,393 pounds of a gas that is said to be a major contributor to global warming from a car found in many Isla Vista driveways. In order to compensate for this strain on the environment, the UCSB Excursion Club has become one of the first groups on campus to become “emission free” by investing in TerraPass, a company that offsets harmful travel emissions by funding clean energy sources.
The Excursion Club organizes various rock and mountain climbing, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding trips throughout California and in adjacent states. But each trip, with its convoy of vans and cars, pumps carbon dioxide into the air.
“Now that we are running a trip almost every weekend… sometimes two trips on the same weekend, we have to take greater steps to offset the emissions we are creating,” said Gus Tolley, an Excursion Club director and trip leader.
Companies like TerraPass have become popular recently due to increasing concern for global climate change. Tolley said the club purchases credits from the TerraPass website based on the miles members travel round trip by car on each expedition.
“[The TerraPass website has] an emissions calculator that estimates the amount of CO2 your car generates based on the mileage you drive and recommends different passes for different amounts of CO2 produced,” Tolley said.
Buying a TerraPass, the company suggests, is the indirect equivalent of offsetting carbon emitted and its consequences on the environment. According to the TerraPass website, the funds are used to purchase environmental credits from one of several earth-friendly projects. For example, the site said it has given the Garwin McNeilus wind turbine farm in Minnesota enough money to equal the amount of yearly emissions of about 400 mid-sized cars.
According to the website, a normal-sized car releases nearly 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. So far, TerraPass has balanced 250 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by funding energy-friendly projects around the country.
“We are purchasing enough carbon credits to offset 120,000 pounds, or 60 tons, of CO2,” Tolley said.
Robin Gee, an undeclared first-year and member of the Excursion Club, said the group was already alert to environmental issues and this new step forward makes the club even more involved in protecting the earth.
“With every trip we take, we are becoming even more environmentally conscious,” Gee said.
Tolley said the frequency of the group’s weekend outings has increased and the destinations are further than they used to be. As such, in addition to using TerraPass, Tolley said the group is utilizing such methods as taking fewer cars to help offset its environmental impact.
Tolley said he also hopes to begin purchasing supplies from the environmentally friendly Isla Vista Food Cooperative, which sells vitamins, supplements and organic produce grown in Santa Barbara. Locally produced food does not need to be transported far, and as such represents a greener way to eat, he said.
“The quality [of the food] would be much better and we would be benefiting our local community,” Tolley said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The Excursion Club charges $40 annually for membership, and uses the dues to purchase equipment. The gear is loaned free of charge to members.
According to Dave Weintraub, an Excursion Club director and trip leader, club dues will not increase as a result of the TerraPass credits.
“As of now, we have enough equipment so that we can do it without raising fees and without decreasing what the club does,” Weintraub said.
A TerraPass can be purchased at www.terrapass.com to offset emissions from cars, SUVs and air travel. Prices range from between $29.95 and $79.95 for cars and between $9.95 and $1,500 for plane flights.