TerraPass nabs “Innovator in Sustainable Living” award

Written by erik


I was honored to accept an award from Americans for Informed Democracy on behalf of TerraPass the other evening. Well, it was late afternoon here at TerraPass world headquarters in San Francisco, but evening in New York, where the awards ceremony was taking place. Let me explain.

TerraPass won recognition in the category of “Innovators in Sustainable Living” for putting our efforts being helping individuals combat climate change. I was personally singled out, in part because I’ve shifted gears over the past several months from working to encourage air travel to encouraging travelers to lower the carbon impact of their travel. As regular readers of this space know, we regularly ask our own members to consider not traveling when it’s not 100% necessary, and to balance out their carbon emissions when they do travel.

In this particular case, I was getting geared up to go to New York to accept our award in person, in line with the usual custom across corporate America. But after a little reflection I was struck by the incongruity of it. Flying across the country to accept an award for persuading people not to fly unnecessarily? Hmm.

We talked to the good people at Americans for Informed Democracy, who graciously jumped at the chance to let us put our principles ahead of what would normally be considered good form. Rather than turning down the opportunity to accept, we asked to accept via a live video feed over Skype.

I’m happy to report that it worked like a charm (apologies for the buzzy audio in the recording). I sat at a conference table in San Francisco, with a great view of about 100 award dinner attendees. They saw my mug projected on the big screen. I gave the same speech I would have given had I been there. And we saved 2,010 pounds of carbon by my not taking a flight from SFO to JFK and back.

When you have to travel, you have to travel, but this was just another example of where “having to travel” turned out to be more a question of habit than of necessity. My thanks to Seth Green, Stephanie Cochinos, and everyone at Americans for Informed Democracy, both for honoring us with an “Innovators in Sustainable Living” award, but also for being so enthusiastic about helping us reduce our own carbon emissions.

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  1. Anne

    What recommendations do you have for eco-conscious folks that want to travel for a much needed vacation but want to avoid the carbon off-sets of traveling by plane? Getting into our cars and traveling contributes to carbon emissions too….what are people doing? just curious……

  2. Adam Stein

    Hi Anne,
    The best thing to do is to travel locally, or some place that can be reached by train. Obviously this rules out a large chunk of the planet, but if you’re just looking for some R&R, you’d probably be surprised by the nearby options.
    I’m a huge proponent of bicycle touring, which is another option to consider. If this sounds arduous for a vacation, keep in mind that there’s a bike tour for every taste. Covering 30 miles a day going from B&B to B&B in the Hudson Valley might be just the excuse you need to indulge in a massage in each town you hit. Or you can pack a tent and head straight for the Rockies. Like I said, there’s a lot of room for flexibility.
    – Adam

  3. MNWalleye

    Wow after all my rants, someone is finally getting it!
    Hats off to Erik, now if we could only get Al Gore on board he might actually have some creditability.
    I’m considering telecommuting from home. Since 90% of my work is already done on the computer, I’m looking at all the positives. Energy and time savings plus reduced office space could be a huge savings for my company. Down side would be a disconnect from dealing with people face to face but regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings could be set up to stay connected. This might not work for everyone but for individuals who are very disciplined and dedicated, this could be huge.
    This technology is already in place, it just has to be implemented.