Paying to play

Bus Nerd and I do our best to limit air travel–in part because of the ridiculous amount of fuel it uses. This sucks a little because we like to go places. And sometimes, we need to go places. Like this weekend, for example. We’re headed to Detroit to visit his family (missed them over the holidays) and (this was his idea) participate in Detroit’s Winter Blast. The tagline for this event: “A Detroit celebration!” Hey, when it’s 12 degrees outside, I’m in no mood to celebrate. I’d rather sit in my Gail’s kitchen, drink a cup of something hot, and play with Hope, her newly adopted bulldog/lab. But I digress.

I first heard about TerraPass back in September. In a nutshell, it’s a company that helps individuals offset their carbon emissions by assessing fees for environmentally damaging activities (such as driving or flying) and donating the money to various clean-energy projects. It’s a reasonable concept, but I’m afraid it gives the impression that people (specifically, people with money to spare) can continue unsustainable, earth-damaging habits and then “undo” the damage by writing a check. (The FAQ on TerraPass’s website addresses this somewhat.)

Of course, you don’t need TerraPass to donate to alternative energy projects, but they do make it more convenient. They partner with major corporations, so you can pay up at the time you make a carbon-unfriendly purchase, and they even calculate the “cost” of your activity. We paid our fees ($17 per person–cheap, considering) through Expedia. It still feels a little like so much guilt balm, but I’m glad they’re out there–if for no other reason than to remind people of the impact of their choices.

And you know I’ll be rockin’ one of these snazzy luggage tags they sent us:

Carbon-friendly luggage

Maybe we’ll get noticed on the 194.