An emerging trend for businesses and individuals is purchasing carbon offsets. These are financial donations put towards projects like renewable energy, planting forests, destruction of methane from landfills, and many others. Renewable energy projects like wind turbines and hydroelectric power along with forestry projects are the most common.
Individuals purchase carbon offsets in an attempt to make up for their carbon footprint, thus offsetting their impact on the environment. Businesses do the same, purchasing offsets to make up for their environmental impacts.
I don't use them personally. I think it can be seen as a reason to not care about your environmental impact. It's great to do things to offset your impact, but I think it's more rewarding to do it yourself. It can be fun to plant a tree yourself, somewhere you can see it grow. Instead of paying for projects in other regions, why doesn't a company put up their own wind turbine and be energy-independent or find other ways to reduce their impact? Usually when a company takes measures to reduce their environmental impact they end up saving money. It's a win-win situation.
That being said, I don't want to discredit carbon offset projects. It's great that they provide an outlet for individuals and businesses who may otherwise not do anything about their environmental impact.
**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Caveman 92223