While reducing our direct energy footprint is our first priority, we have purchased offsets since 2007 for greenhouse gas emissions we haven’t yet eliminated. These include emissions from our U.S. facilities and employee commuting, as well as for the business travel for all North American associates. Since 2010 we have offset the emissions generated from shipping e-commerce orders to our customers. From 2010 to 2014 we partnered with GreenShipping and we now work with the non-profit Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to manage our offsets. To offset the emissions from our owned and operated facilities, we also invest in Green-E Climate Certified carbon offsets and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) through BEF.
Since 2007, we have offset 100 percent of the emissions from our business travel and employee commuting through The Conservation Fund. The Fund leverages the carbon absorbing abilities of trees by planting them and protecting national wildlife refuges to offset carbon emissions. From 2008 to 2016, our offsets removed almost 48,520 metric tonnes of CO2 by planting approximately 37,000 trees in the Lower Mississippi region and helping to protect California’s redwoods in our own backyard, at the Garcia River, Big River, and Salmon Creek Forests. This is equivalent to removing the emissions from 10,249 passenger vehicles driven for one year. In addition to trapping carbon, the protection and restoration of forests provides habitats for wildlife, filtered drinking water for communities, boosts local economies, and offers special places to recreate. In 2018 we began offsetting the emissions of our athletes' expeditions through tree planting at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored our consistent offset of 100% of our U.S. energy use with Green Power Leadership Awards in 2012 and 2013. We were also commended for our climate education efforts through our partnership with the Hot Planet/Cool Athletes program. The EPA also recognized our promotion of green power usage to customers via signage at cash registers and in-store dressing rooms.