Wren Has Produced a New and More Transparent Way to Offset Your Carbon Footprint

The startup hopes its monthly subscription to measurable carbon offsetting programmes will be the first step toward lowering overall emissions.

15.07.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Every decision we make, from the food we eat to the clothes we buy, has a corresponding carbon impact on the environment. Knowing how concerned people are about righting such wrongs, all manner of companies have cropped up offering the chance to ‘offset’ emissions — planting a specific number of trees to soak up the carbon dioxide released in the rest of their lives.

But it’s never clear whether these programmes are actually successful—whether the trees are actually planted or were later cut down.

“Carbon offset projects have struggled with fraud, unintended consequences, and outright failure,” comments Wren, a new startup fighting to find a new way of running such programmes. “That’s why we only select projects that we think are exceptional.”

The company, set up by Mimi Tran Zambetti, Ben Stanfield and Landon Brand, sets out its aim to “build tools that help everyone act against climate change,” with Wren being seen as a “first step to achieving this goal.”

This manifests itself via a carbon offset programme operated through a monthly subscription. Users sign up and use a carbon calculator, answering questions about the size of their home, the transport they use, the size of their electricity bill and how much they spend on clothing. Wren then generates a monthly price — often around $15 a month, according to Fast Company — and users choose to direct their monthly fee towards a selection of validated projects.

These include a project of clean briquettes for refugees, in which flammable and emissionless material made out of rice husks, groundnut shells and maize cobs is delivered to communities in Uganda; a tech-enabled rainforest projection in Peru, in partnership with The Rainforest Foundation; or a community tree planting programme for farmers in East Africa, alongside The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST).

Backers can track each project to ensure the planted trees still exist or to see how many people are making use of the materials in which they have invested.

“Starting with a subscription service has the added advantage of funding our future work,” Wren adds on the website. “Climate change is an urgent problem that we need to address immediately, which means putting 100% of our minds to it. We believe the most effective way we can build a team to tackle this problem is to build a sustainable business.

“Our goal is to reverse climate change. We’re building Wren as a first step to achieving this goal.”

Speaking to Fast Company, Brand added his hope that the website would be the first step towards change in terms of personal emissions and later change in terms of corporate and state emissions.

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