Local Partnerships for Addressing Your Carbon Footprint

If you have ever worried about your “carbon footprint” or wanted to support local ecological restoration, the new partnerships developed by St. Mary’s Earth Stewards will enable you to make a difference.


St. Mary’s Earth Stewards have previously provided education and encouragement around carbon offsets as one way to be stewards of God’s Creation, especially as it pertains to climate change. Carbon offsets are when an individual funds the implementation of an activity that leads to the sequestration/storage of atmospheric carbon to offset their lifestyle choices which release carbon into the atmosphere.


Recently, Earth Stewards decided to look into local options for counterbalancing carbon outputs, and began working with local organizations to develop the necessary relationships. We agreed that the Long Tom Watershed Council (LTWC) and McKenzie River Trust (MRT) would be the two most appropriate organizations (due to geographic overlap, mission, efficacy, capacity, etc.). As a result of these relationships, the Faith Community-Long Tom Carbon Planting Fund and a similar fund at the McKenzie River Trust, were created and will support activities and materials for planting, plant establishment (maintenance of plantings), and plant conservation in the Long Tom Watershed Council’s service area and provide much needed local match funding for the council’s important work in the watershed. Trees, shrubs, and other plants have the ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere. Planting and maintaining trees serves to address concerns for many people about their carbon footprint.* Both organizations are setting up pages on their websites dedicated to these funds, which allow St. Mary’s and other faith community members to donate to these funds. We will also have donation slips with the organizations mailing addresses available at St. Mary’s as well.


There are numerous ways to calculate carbon impacts depending upon your assumptions and what you value. The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and others have calculators that may be of help in determining your carbon footprint. Additionally, many estimates exist on the amount of carbon that an individual tree can absorb. A tree may absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon per year, reaching a ton over 40 years. The exact amount of carbon absorbed and sequestered varies based on plant species, age, and several other factors. LTWC and MRT plant a diverse variety of native tree and shrub species. The average cost of the planting and establishment of a tree or shrub is approximately $4 per plant.


Several airlines’ and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s estimates for carbon emissions from round trip air travel between Portland, OR and New York, NY, range from 1159 to 1955 pounds of carbon. Given these estimates and calculations, one may wish to enable the planting of three to five trees to address their carbon impacts from that trip. This traveler or one making a similar trip, may choose to donate $12-20 to one of the Faith Community- Carbon Planting Funds for a cross-country trip.


If you calculated your annual carbon footprint to be 43 tons of carbon released per year, you may wish to sponsor the planting of 43-53 trees. You may wish to donate $172-212 to one of the Faith Community- Carbon Planting Funds for your annual carbon contributions.


The Earth Stewards are planning a kick-off event for this project over the summer. Stay tuned for more information.


Feel free to contact Liz Vollmer-Buhl, or Betsy Halpern, with any questions.


*These local grassroots partnerships are not regulated by, nor participating in the international Verified Carbon Standard program or any other certified program.