We proud are to announce our new collection is Carbon Neutral. As you know sustainability is incredibly important to us here at PAOLITA, that’s why we’re working on using recycled materials in our clothing, developing responsible packaging, repurposing surplus materials and supporting sustainable small businesses.
And now, with the help of CARBN, we have estimated the remaining impact of this collection and offset this impact by funding a planet-saving project; Planting Biodiverse Forests in Panama which hits the UN’s sustainability goals. The project is certified by the prestigious Gold Standard and its impacts on communities and our planet are carefully measured and reported as contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations (UN).

By sourcing timber from primary rainforest or harvesting large-scale monoculture plantation, the timber trade has significantly depleted tropical rainforests.

CO2OL Tropical Mix is looking to change that by introducing sustainable timber production while reforesting degraded pastureland with a mix of native tree species and teak. The resulting forests offer a natural habitat for native animals and plants, protect and enrich the soil, save and filter water and contribute to the mitigation of climate change.

The project, initially developed by Forest Finance and recently extended by the partner Sustainable Timber and Isla Cebaco, is based on a model that combines sustainable, high quality timber production with biodiversity protection and ecosystem restoration. By also planting a mix of cacao and native tree species in some areas, the project also enables sustainable cacao production.

Project impacts and benefits:

  • More than 7.5 million trees from 20 different native species have been planted – capturing carbon and migating climate change
  • 25% has been declared nature reserve, protecting the forest and the animals and plants living there
  • 15 threatened animal species from the Red List have found a habitat in the project
  • The reforested areas serve as bridges for wandering animals seeking new habitats
  • The project provides long-term employment for the local population. So far, the Forest Finance Group has created 150 jobs, through their reforestation projects in Panama. The training and further education of the native population leads to an improved living standard.
  • Knowledge transfer around the use of sustainable and innovative forest management technologies, GIS and monitoring-systems in Panama lays the ground for future projects
  • All employees receive a wage above the legal minimumhealth insurance and a pension fund. Furthermore, they receive additional optional benefits such as a life insurance as a security for their families, an internal credit programme, training and further education and special seasonal bonuses.

By investing in these systems, you are helping to generate a high value wood and cacao yield that is ecologically and socially sustainable.

Besides being central to the development of Carbon Neutrality in our supply chain at PAOLITA, CARBN is an incredible smartphone app that tracks your carbon footprint through data entries of the foods you eat, clothes you buy transport you use and energy you consume.

CARBN helps users take climate action through understanding their impact, adopting new green habits, funding planet-saving projects and influencing others to do the same. The app allows you to complete challenges such as cutting out meat consumption so many times a week and is a pioneering platform for instilling positive reinforcements to take individual climate action through a fun and inspiring interface.
 
Invite friends and colleagues to the app and compete against each other in challenges to unlock a whole range of benefits, with discount vouchers on a range of brands including our own PAOLITA 15% Off Discount Code!
We talk to the Founder & Co-Owner of CARBN, Nima Shakib about what Carbon Offsetting is and how it might just be the future of climate action.
Read the exclusive interview below.

1. Perhaps for some of our readers who aren’t entirely sure, tell us what exactly is Carbon Offsetting, and what does it aims to do? 

Carbon offsetting is a simple and effective mechanism for funding planet-saving projects.

The developed world has industrialised in an emission intensive way, there has been a lot of deforestation, and the energy used has been from fossil fuels. If developing countries are to catch up in this way, the result will be an environmental catastrophe.

Protecting the rainforests, reforestation and renewable electricity is expensive and many of these developing countries cannot be expected to shoulder the burden for the rest of us. Especially considering that people from developed countries tend to have a carbon footprint several times larger than the world average.

This is where offsets come in. Projects that are reducing global emissions such as tree planting schemes or renewable energy projects work with standards agencies to measure the impact of their project. The standard agencies then issue a carbon offset certificate for each metric tonne of CO2 which is removed or avoided due to the project. The project is then able to sell these offsets to individuals or companies that want to compensate for their emissions.

The standards agencies play a pivotal role as they are a third party that estimates and verifies the impact, ensures that that the project wouldn’t have gone ahead without the funding and ensures that there is no double counting. This is why, Carbn and Paolita only purchase offsets from the world’s leading standards agencies, The Gold Standard and VERRA (VCS).

2. CARBN is obviously a new type of business model and one that is pioneering in its approach to sustainability and renewable energies. What are some of the key challenges you face as a business right now? 

The biggest challenge we face is helping people change habits that are very ingrained into their lifestyles. People have busy lives and a lot of different things to worry about and we need to assume this in the way we design our product. It’s challenging to stress the importance of taking climate action whilst not coming across as pushy or judgmental. Ultimately, we just want people to change their habits in the right direction as the direction is what’s important not the starting point!

3. Tell us about how CARBN came to fruition?

In my previous job, I worked on a project where the team and I travelled multiple times to and from San Francisco. Whilst on those flights I read Michael E Mann’s “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” and “Nudge” By Richard Thaler. I realised that although everyone on my team had a deep concern about the environment there were many behavioural nudges such as air miles encouraging unnecessary emissions. I decided to think about how I could flip this on its head. A year later I was working on an early version of Carbn with my Co-founder Jacob.

4. What are some of the key benefits of carbon offsetting compared to alternative routes of climate-friendly business progression?

The key benefit is that it’s something a business or people can do immediately that can have a measured impact. They will be funding planet-saving projects. However, offsetting should always be a short/medium-term solution for emissions that are unavoidable at that point in time. The best companies have a 5-10 timeline with targets for reductions and use offsets as a temporary solution.

5. What is the most rewarding part of what you do at CARBN?

Speaking to our users. It gives me a lot of hope to see how many people are quietly doing their bit to tackle the climate crisis. It is also hugely rewarding to hear about their enthusiasm about what we are building.

 

6. What would you say to those who feel the pressure and scrutiny to be “perfect” with regards to sustainability? 

Perfect is the enemy of good and is subjective. For individual climate action to have a meaningful impact it needs to influence other people to do the same. You won’t influence people by being judgemental or competitive, you will only do so by leading by example, being empathetic, and doing your best.

7. Why is individual action on climate change so essential? And what would you say to those who believe the responsibility of climate action solely lies with large corporations? 

That is a very strong argument, I used to believe it too and still do to an extent. However, large corporations and the politicians that regulate them only respond to short-term incentives. As consumers, voters, employees, we need to signal how important this issue is to use through the choices we make for our own lives and the climate action we take. Otherwise, they will continue with business as usual, until it’s too late.

8. What is the difference between climate change and global warming? 

Broadly defined, global warming is the increase in the Earth’s average temperature due to increasing levels of greenhouse gas.

The “climate” describes the weather conditions expected in a region at a certain time of year. The weather, meanwhile, is what occurs at a specific time. You can determine the weather where you are now by simply looking out the window. The climate, however, is what you experience throughout summer, autumn, winter and spring.

Climate change, therefore, describes the regional and global changes in climate patterns that occur as a result of the greenhouse effect. Global warming is an example of these changes. One hot summer’s day isn’t caused by climate change and global warming. But increasingly hot summers year on year in certain places are.

However, the impacts of climate change are varied, with some places even experiencing colder temperatures. That’s why scientists today prefer the term “climate change” to “global warming”, which doesn’t account for the other changes to our planet.

9. Where do you see the future of Carbon offsetting in 5 years?

Offsetting has taken off in the last few years and I think that it’s fantastic that so many planet-saving projects are getting financed through this mechanism.

However, some dubious offsetting projects aren’t verified by the most reputable standards agencies (VERRA, Gold Standard). Also, offsets shouldn’t make people complacent.

The way we produce, consume and regulate also need to change for us to tackle this crisis. I hope that in 5 years offsets will be used alongside other types of climate action and that the standards agencies will succeed in ensuring that the offset market works effectively and transparently.

10. How exactly do you measure “Carbon Footprint”? 

You can measure your carbon footprint by downloading the Carbn app and going through the onboarding process. The app gives you a detailed granular breakdown which will help you focus on changing your carbon-intensive habits. The tool primarily uses data points from various governmental sources, academic studies, and NGOs and was built by Climate scientists from Imperial College London and Oxford University.

11. The CARBN app is an incredibly user-friendly and sophisticated interface. Do you think that part of the problem of climate action is that it doesn’t feel accessible enough to individuals? How at CARBN do you aim to challenge that? 

People have hectic lives and many priorities; we want to nudge them at the right moment.

Many people are already making huge personal sacrifices, we want to give them credit for that and encourage them along the way. People are not sure of the relative value of different Green Habits, we’re hoping to give them a sense of scale so that they can prioritise.

Nature Photography by Lucy Laucht