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What does carbon-negative really mean?

Updated: Feb 2, 2018

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, that’s why we are an entirely carbon-negative company. But what does Carbon Negative actually mean?

You may have seen the term carbon neutral used; this is where all the carbon produced by the use of a product, company, mode of transport has been cancelled out by taking carbon out of the atmosphere and environment in another way. A carbon negative product or company is one where more carbon is taken out of the atmosphere than is produced from the product’s production and transportation meaning they have a positive effect on the battle against climate change.

However, whenever we see the terms carbon neutral or negative or carbon offsetting in general, it is important to read about just how these claims are made by the organisation or individual making them. Many offsetting schemes used today are flawed or have a net negative impact on the environment.

Some schemes are used by polluting companies to increase their profitability. For example, when you ‘offset’ the carbon you produce through transport or using a product, some companies are simply using that carbon-offsetting fee you pay to fund their carbon credit / taxes which are levied to reduce the amount of pollution they emit. By investing in this carbon-offsetting scheme, you are enabling the polluting behaviour!

Other flawed schemes have zero effect at all (apart from reducing the money in your pocket). Some schemes cause ‘leakage’; this is where the offsetting scheme simply causes the harmful behaviour to shift in location. For example a scheme which pays a rainforest owner to not sell their land to logging companies has no effect as the loggers can simply purchase the land next door meaning the same number of carbon-reducing trees are still felled.

There isn’t currently a standardised industry certification to easily work out if a carbon offsetting scheme is effective or not; instead we must read about each scheme on a case-by-case basis and make the judgement for ourselves.

At Form we knew from the outset we wanted to be at least carbon neutral, so did a lot of research to choose how best to offset our carbon.

As with most products we own today, our mats have a certain amount carbon embodied in them due to the carbon produced during their production and transportation. Our first step was to work out just how much carbon is produced from the moment production begins to the moment it arrives at your door. You can calculate your own carbon emissions from your travel or home using tools such as WWF's carbon footprint calculator here - http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/

The next step was to find a genuine scheme that would actually offset our carbon emissions. We found SolarAid, a British charity that combats poverty and climate change. SolarAid provides access to solar lights in some of the most remote regions of Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. Discover more about the fantastic work SolarAid do on their website - https://solar-aid.org/about/.

By donating a proportion of the price of all our products to SolarAid we ensure that more carbon is taken out of the environment than we put into it. That way you can workout guilt-free, safe in the knowledge your Form mat is truly making a difference.

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