9 Best Carbon Offsets for Families (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Carbon Offsets for Families (Complete 2022 List)

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Grace Smoot

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Carbon offsets are one of the ways in which we can reduce the 35 billion tons of CO2 we pump into our atmosphere every year. However, when choosing a carbon offset for you or your family, not all companies are created equally. So, we had to ask: What are the best carbon offsets for families?

The best carbon offsets for families in terms of overall impact are Terrapass, Ecologi, Offset Alliance, and Zero Smart. These are officially accredited and have specific carbon offset plans for families of different sizes. Others, like 8 Billion Trees or tentrees also plant trees with every purchase.

Keep reading to learn more about the best carbon offsets for families, how these carbon offset projects work, what their respective offsetting costs are, and what your best way would be to offset your carbon emissions. At the end of the article, we’ll also share with you what the biggest carbon offsetting limitations are and why reducing your carbon footprint is more effective than offsetting it.

Here’s What All the Best Carbon Offsets for Families Have in Common

Carbon offsets are reductions in carbon emissions that are used to compensate for carbon emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms on what is known as the global carbon offset market. 

Carbon Offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees”

Oxford Dictionary

When you purchase carbon offsets for your family, it’s important that they actually make a difference in total carbon emissions. To achieve that, the following are key criteria:

  • Carbon offset projects have to be effective (different projects have different effectiveness rates)
  • Carbon offset projects have to be additional
  • Carbon offset projects have to be permanent
  • The claims from carbon offset projects have to be verifiable

(For a full overview, check out our guide on how to choose carbon offset projects that actually make a difference.)

These Are the Best Carbon Offsets for Families

Below are our favorite carbon offsets for families (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

Carbon Offsets for FamiliesQuick Facts
TerrapassAbout: Carbon offset purchases support farm power, landfill gas capture, clean energy from wind power, and abandoned coal mine methane capture carbon offset projects.
Costs: $17 per 1,000kg of CO2
EcologiAbout: Family carbon offset purchases support forest restoration, renewable energy, clean cookstoves, and clean drinking water offset projects. A certain number of trees are also planted with every offset purchase. 
Costs: $6.04 per 1,000kg of CO2
Offset AllianceAbout: Family carbon offset purchases support reforestation, clean energy, short grass prairie protection, and sawdust to energy operations.
Costs: $11.99 per 1,000kg of CO2 
Zero SmartAbout: Family carbon offset plan purchases Purchases support mangrove planting, efficient cookstoves, hydropower, reforestation, methane reduction, turning rice husks into energy, and landfill gas recovery.
Costs: $4.49 per 1,000kg of CO2
EcoCREDAbout: The couple, family, and large family carbon offset purchases support forest preservation, wildlife habitat enhancement, wind energy, waste to power generation, and energy efficiency in schools in the US.
Costs: $10 per 1,000kg of CO2
tentreeAbout: The Family Tree-One Month and Family Tree-One Year carbon offset options offset the lifestyle of an average-sized family (3-5 people) living in the United States.
Costs: $2.18-$4.90 per 1,000kg of CO2
8 Billion TreesAbout: The Family Earth Defenders carbon offset package offsets the carbon impact from an average household (2 adults and 1 child) for an entire year.
Costs: $23.81 per 1,000kg of CO2
WrenAbout: Calculating and offsetting your household carbon footprint supports biochar, tree planting, mineral weathering, clean cookstoves, and tech-enabled Amazon Rainforest protection projects.
Costs: $17.99 per 1,000kg of CO2
CarbonfundAbout: Carbon offset purchases support energy efficiency, forestry, and renewable energy carbon offset projects globally.
Costs: $16.25 per 1,000kg of CO2

Terrapass: Carbon Offsets for Families of all Sizes

Screenshot of the terrapass front page

Terrapass is an organization that has been providing carbon offsets to individuals and businesses since 2004. In 2020, Terrapass customers offset roughly the same amount of carbon as planting 7 million trees. Their mission is to fight climate change by reducing as many carbon emissions as possible via the use of education, online tools, carbon offsets, and renewable energy. 

“Restore the balance”

Terrapass

Carbon offset overview:  Terrapass offers a carbon-balanced living plan, a monthly subscription, which factors in the number of people in your household, the number of cars you own, and how many flights you take annually. Purchases help fund carbon offset projects including farm power, landfill gas capture, clean energy from wind power, and abandoned coal mine methane capture

Carbon offset effectiveness: Terrapass uses the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve to help ensure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects.

Carbon offset costs: With the carbon-balanced living plan, a family of 4 (with 2 cars and some flights) would pay $37.22 per month ($446.64 per year) to offset 26,300kg of CO2 in a year. This works out to approximately $17 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset. 

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their carbon-balanced living plan webpage to enter your information and customize accordingly.

Ecologi: Where Carbon Reduction Partners With Tree Planting 

Screenshot of the Ecologi front page

Ecologi was founded in 2019 in Bristol, United Kingdom when CEO and cofounder Elliot Coad was driving to work and thought, “How much climate action could I fund with the money for a coffee?” Through Ecologi, you can offset your carbon footprint through verified carbon offsets, and a certain number of trees are also planted so they can sequester carbon once they mature.

“For less than the cost of a cup of coffee per week you can become climate positive”

Ecologi

Project overview: Ecologi provides a family carbon offset plan, which takes into account the number of adults, children, and even pets in your family. Purchases support projects including, but not limited to, forest restoration, renewable energy, clean cookstoves, and clean drinking water. When you purchase carbon offsets through Ecologi, trees are planted as a bonus, because it takes years for trees to mature and sequester carbon in large quantities. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Ecologi uses the Verified Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard to help ensure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects. They also have tree planting partners who are able to responsibly plant millions of trees a month on their behalf. These partners include Eden Reforestation Projects, One Tree Planted, and Trees for the Future, all of which are included in our list of the Best Charities for Planting Trees.

Carbon offset costs: Ecologi’s family plan factors in the number of adults, children, and pets in your household. It costs $10.50 per adult, $5.25 per child, and $0.75 per pet to add them to your family plan. For example, a family of 4 would pay $31.50 per month ($378 per year) to offset 62,500kg of CO2. This works out to approximately $6.04 per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their family carbon offset webpage to customize and purchase your offsets. Ecologi even has an interactive google sheet where you can check when, where, and how many trees are planted through their platform.

Offset Alliance: High Impact Climate Action

Screenshot of the Offset Alliance front page

Offset Alliance is a designated Woman Owned Small Business founded in 2019 with the aim of addressing climate change and having a positive impact on local and global communities. Their mission is to make measurable and meaningful climate action simple. 

“Meaningful climate action made simple”

Offset Alliance

Carbon offset overview: Offset Alliance offers a family offset that can be purchased in increments of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. Purchases support projects including reforestation in Zimbabwe and Alaska, clean energy in Costa Rica, short grass prairie protection in Colorado, and sawdust to energy operations in Chile.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Offset Alliance uses the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve to help ensure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects. They are also third-party verified and adhere to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Carbon offset costs: Offset Alliance’s family plan assumes a family of 4, where each family member produces approximately 1,334kg (2,940 lbs) of CO2 per month (totalling 64,032kg CO2 per year). It costs $192, $384, $576, and $768 for a 3, 6, 9, or 12 month offset, respectively. This works out to approximately $11.99 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their webpage to view the family carbon offset option.

Zero Smart: Climate Positive  

Screenshot of the zero smart front page

Zero Smart is a United Kingdom based social enterprise that was founded on the questions, “where does our carbon footprint actually come from” and “how much impact are our eco actions actually having”. Their mission is to make it easy for everyday people to support scientific climate solutions and to create systemic change for the good of all humanity. 

“Reduce your carbon footprint to ZERO from £6 per month”

Zero Smart

Carbon offset overview: Zero Smart offers a family plan carbon offset option, which takes into account the number of adults, children, and pets in your household. They then use the United Kingdom average for each member of your family to calculate your combined carbon footprint. Purchases support the following projects: mangroves in Madagascar, efficient cookstoves in Eritrea, hydropower in Uganda, reforestation in Papua New Guinea, methane reduction in Denmark, turning rice husks into energy in India, and landfill gas recovery in Chile. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Zero Smart projects adhere to the Verified Carbon Standard and Gold Standard to help ensure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects. They have also partnered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Eden Reforestation Projects, which is included in our list of the Best Charities for Planting Trees.

Carbon offset costs: Zero Smart offers a family plan carbon offset option, which takes into account the number of adults, children, and pets in your household. For example, a family of 4 can offset 40,800kg of CO2 at a cost of $18 per month ($216 per year). This works out to approximately $4.49 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their webpage to view, customize, and purchase your family carbon offsets. 

EcoCRED: Achieving a Carbon-Neutral Life

Screenshot of the ecocred front page

EcoCRED is a sustainability platform backed by Facedrive Inc., a service offering socially-responsible services to local communities. So far, they have 60 thousand users that have collectively reduced over 4 million lbs (18 million kg) of CO2 emissions. Their mission is to make the journey to being more sustainable easier. 

“Carbon offsets for a zero-carbon future”

EcoCRED

Carbon offset overview: EcoCRED offers a couple, family (4 people), and large family (6 people) plan. It is available as a one-time purchase or a monthly subscription. Purchases support projects in the US involving forest preservation, wildlife habitat enhancement, wind energy, waste to power generation, and energy efficiency in schools.

Carbon offset effectiveness: EcoCRED carbon offsets are certified by third-party organizations, the Verified Carbon Standard, the American Carbon Registry, and the Climate Action Reserve.

Carbon offset costs: EcoCRED offers a couple, family (4 people), and large family (6 people) plan which offsets 5, 10, or 15 thousand kg of CO2 per year, respectively. For example, a family of 4 can offset 10,000kg for a price of  $100. This works out to approximately $10 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their family carbon offset webpage to purchase your offsets. 

tentree: 10 Trees Planted With Every Purchase

Screenshot of the tentree monthly subscription page

tentree is a company that sells sustainable essentials made via ethical manufacturing. For every item purchased, they also plant 10 trees. To date they have planted over 50 million trees, removed millions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, and reforested over 5,000 hectares of land. Their mission is to put Earth first and plant 1 billion trees by 2030.

“Earth-First is our commitment to making choices in a world where the planet and its people come first, always.”

tentree

Carbon offset overview: tentree offers a Family Tree-One Month and Family Tree-One Year carbon offset option. Both can be purchased either as a one-time investment or as a subscription. Both assume a family of 3 (2 parents and a baby), living in an average home, 2 cars, a well-rounded diet, baby diapers, books, toys, and food. The one month option offsets 4.5 tons (4,082kg) of CO2 and plants 22 trees either as a one time purchase or as a monthly subscription. The one year option offsets 54.6 tons (49,532kg) of CO2 and plants 268 trees either as a one time purchase or as an annual subscription. In coordination with its planting partners, tentree plants mangrove trees in Madagascar and Indonesia, Acacia trees in Senegal, and Avocado trees in Haiti.

Carbon offset effectiveness: tentree has partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects, One Tree Planted, and Trees for the Future, all of which are included in our list of the Best Charities for Planting Trees. To ensure the trees are actually planted, tentree’s partners have established photo stations at planting sites, and villagers use cameras that geotag the photos with GPS coordinates where the photo was taken. They are also working on drone mapping to better monitor planting success.

Carbon offset costs: A family of three can purchase the one month option at a cost of $20 one-time or $15 per month ($180 per year). This works out to approximately $4.90 (one-time) and $3.67 (monthly subscription) per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset. A family of three can purchase the one year option at a cost of $144 one-time or $108 per year. This works out to approximately $2.91 (one-time) and $2.18 (annual subscription) per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset

8 Billion Trees: Planting and Saving 8 Billion Trees

Screenshot of the 8 Billion Trees front page

8 Billion Trees was founded in 2018 as an organization that engages in large scale tree planting and tree conservation operations to fuel positive environmental change and defend animal habitats. To date they have planted over 8 million trees. Their mission is to plant and save 8 billion trees while revitalizing and restoring the environment.

“If people can destroy the Earth, they can also help to rebuild it”

8 Billion Trees

Carbon offset overview: Their Family Earth Defenders carbon offset package offsets the carbon impact from an average household (2 adults and 1 child) for an entire year. It plants 355 trees and removes over 29,822 kg (65,746 lbs) of CO2. It also covers the carbon footprint of 2 vehicles, the energy usage for an average sized home, meals, phone usage, regular Netflix viewing, and a child’s diapers, toys, food, books, and stroller.

Carbon offset effectiveness: For every product sold, 8 Billion Trees will plant 10 new trees and conserve 100 existing trees. This is done no more than 180 days after your purchase. They have also partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects, Naturatins, Ideflor-bio, Government of Tocantins (Brazil) and Government of Pará (Brazil) to ensure permanence. 

Carbon offset costs: The Family Earth Defenders package (2 adults, 1 baby) offsets 29,822 kg of CO2 at a cost of $710. This works out to approximately $23.81 per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their carbon offset webpage to view all of the options, including the Family Earth Defenders option.

Wren: Your All-In-One Climate Subscription

Screenshot of the wren front page

Wren is a climate conscious company formulated to be your on-ramp to climate action. To date they have offset over 160 thousand tons of CO2 in 4 countries.Their mission is to help reverse the climate crisis. 

“Climate change is the largest crisis humanity has ever faced. But we can fix it.”

Wren

Carbon offset overview: Wren has a carbon footprint calculator that takes into account your location, diet, transportation, energy usage, clothes, pets, and number of people in your household to calculate your household carbon footprint in tons of CO2 per year. Based on this information they then calculate 3 monthly subscriptions whose purchases support biochar in California, tree planting in Kenya, mineral weathering in Scotland, clean cookstoves in Uganda, and tech-enabled Amazon Rainforest protection projects in Peru. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Wren’s carbon offsets are permanent, additional, only counted once, and based on peer-reviewed science.

Carbon offset costs: Based on their carbon footprint calculator, Wren estimates 55,700 kg CO2 baseline emissions per year for a family of 4 that can be offset for $83.54 per month. This subscription option cost approximately $17.99 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset. You can also choose the custom plan option and enter any monetary amount. 

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their carbon calculator webpage to enter your information and then select a website to choose one of their offset subscriptions or contribute via a custom plan.

Carbonfund: Go Carbon Neutral

Screenshot of the Carbonfund front page

Carbonfund is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by current President Eric Carlson and is based in New York, United States of America. Their mission is to make it easy for any individual, business, or organization to reduce & offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future.

“Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t”

Carbonfund

Carbon offset overview: Carbonfund offers a “Couple” and “Family-of-4” annual carbon offset option. Purchases support energy efficiency, forestry, and renewable energy carbon offset projects globally. To date, they have supported 240 projects in 28 countries.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Carbonfund projects are third-party verified and adhere to the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry, and Climate Action Reserve.

Carbon offset costs: The standard Family-of-4” carbon offset option costs $1,560 to offset 96,016kg of CO2 in a year. This works out to approximately $16.25 per 1,000 kg of CO2 offset

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit the Carbonfund caron offset webpage to purchase your offsets.

How to Choose Carbon Offset Projects Actually Make a Difference

The following information is a summary for you based on our full guide: “How to Buy Carbon Offsets That Actually Make a Difference

Purchase carbon offset projects with high effectiveness rates. The offset programs in order of most to least effective are:

  • Direct CO2 removal: Machines remove CO2 directly from the air. Effective at reducing emissions in the short and long-term because they are additional and permanent.
  • Renewable energy: Investing in projects that build and maintain renewable energy sites globally. There is no additionality because renewables are becoming a greater share of our energy mix, with or without the help of offsets.
  • Energy efficiency improvements: The creation of products or systems that use less energy than conventional systems to perform the same task. However, if products are replaced too quickly, the amount of CO2 required to produce the new product would exceed the amount of CO2 saved with the new product.
  • Carbon sequestration: The long-term storage of carbon via forestry practices. Not an effective way to reduce emissions in the long-term because there is no guaranteed permanence.

If – and only if – they are both additional and permanent, carbon offsets can help reduce your overall GHG emissions to balance off your personal carbon footprint to fight climate change – at least in the short term. But they can be much more effective if they meet certain key criteria and project standards.

Here are key criteria to look for in a carbon offset program:

  • A clearly defined protocol that determines which types of projects are eligible and how emission reductions will be measured
  • Independent third-party verification of compliance with the protocol
  • Registration of offsets in an offset registry, which tracks each credit with a unique serial number to ensure it is only used once 

If used correctly, carbon offsets can provide environmental, economic, and social benefits that go beyond reducing carbon emissions. They have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change and begin to reverse some of the effects of climate change. 

Carbon offset project standards assure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects. This way you can ensure that the project is actually reducing CO2 emissions. The following are recognized carbon offset standards:

  • Verified Carbon Standard (VCS): Considered the world’s leading voluntary GHG program, with 1700+ projects having removed 630+ million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Examples of projects include hydropower in Turkey, forest conservation in Peru, and landfill gas capture in China.

Choosing carbon offset projects from any of the above project standard registries helps ensure that your project is verified and that it actually reduces CO2 emissions.

What Are the Biggest Carbon Offsetting Limitations

In fact, there are 9 main carbon offsetting limitations that can make the current voluntary carbon market controversial and lead to confusion, inconsistencies, and a general distrust of the system. Have a look at the quick summary table below.

Carbon Offsetting LimitationQuick Facts
#1: You don’t reduce your own carbon footprintWhen you purchase a carbon offset, you are paying someone else to cut their emissions so you don’t have to cut your own emissions.
#2: Carbon offsets do not work at the core issue of reducing CO2 emissionsGlobal warming is still occurring at an accelerated rate because offsetting CO2 emissions does not cut CO2 emissions at the source, it only mitigates emissions.
#3: Carbon offsetting only reduces CO2 if the projects are additional and permanentIf carbon offset projects are not additional and permanent, they can make climate change worse because they are not offsetting any carbon.
#4: “Poorer” countries are paid to offset carbon while the “rich” countries continue to emitThe richest of the world emit the majority of the world’s carbon. Offsets are just licenses to pollute with the benefit of aiding those in developing countries.
#5: Different projects have different effectiveness ratesThe varying levels of effectiveness of carbon offset programs make it difficult to choose one that actually reduces emissions. The most effective offset programs are renewable energy programs, followed by energy efficiency improvements, carbon sequestration, and aviation offset programs.  
#6: CO2 offsets are only realized at the end of project durations If a carbon offset program is not carried out until the end, then we cannot reap the program’s benefits. For example, planting trees is a common offset program that is only effective if those planted trees are protected during their life span for the carbon benefits to be realized. 
#7: There are not enough offsets for all CO2 emissionsWe emit far more CO2 than we can offset because of carbon sink (e.g., atmosphere, forests, soil, ocean) limitations.
#8: Not all offset projects get realizedOf the credits for 1 billion tons of CO2 listed on registries, only about 300-400 million tons of CO2 offsets actually get realized. 
#9: Carbon offsetting projects are often used as greenwashingInvesting in non-verified credits, not prioritizing in-house emissions reductions, and double-counting carbon credits are methods of greenwashing. Also, companies may advertise a specific program, but it may be just for public attention instead of actually reducing emissions.

You can check out the full article here: “What Are the Biggest Carbon Offsetting Limitations? (All 9 Explained)

Why Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Is More Effective Than Offsetting It

The main argument against carbon offsets is that they don’t really reduce overall emissions. Instead of substituting offsetting carbon emissions, we should instead cut the emissions directly at the source. Basically, if we stop emissions from getting into the atmosphere in the first place, we won’t have to worry about offsetting. But have we done this? Have we cut emissions directly at the source? The data says no.  

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the largest decrease in energy-related carbon emissions since World War II, a decrease of 2 billion tons. However, emissions rebounded quickly at the end of 2020, with levels in December ending 60 million tons higher than those in December 2019. This indicates that the earth is still warming at an accelerated rate, and not enough is being done to implement clean energy practices. 

Illustration of annual CO2 emissions globally
Our World in Data: Annual total CO2 emissions

When you buy a carbon offset, you are paying someone else to cut their emissions so you don’t have to cut your own emissions. This is why offsetting alone will not be enough to reduce global carbon emissions.

Carbon offsets are a good place to start if you want to get into the carbon-emission reduction game, but in order to be effective in the long term, we must not rely on them solely. Cutting emissions from the source and then offsetting the remainder is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint and provide the highest environmental benefits. If we fail to cut emissions first, we will fill up our carbon sinks and render them unusable. Preventing carbon emissions rather than reacting once they are already emitted is the best way to reduce overall emissions.

Carbon offsets reduce GHG emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas. Reducing your consumption of these, in turn, reduces your carbon footprint, which has huge impacts on environmental, economic, and public health. A reduced carbon footprint due to lower GHG emissions can mitigate the effects of climate change, improve public health, boost the economy, and maintain plant and animal diversity.

  • Public health: Reducing GHG emissions lessens the likelihood and severity of extreme weather events, improves air and water quality, maintains biodiversity, and supports a healthy food supply.
  • Economics: Reducing GHG boosts the economy, especially when it becomes economically rewarding to innovate solutions that help protect our planet, fight climate change, and are based on clean energy.
  • Plant and animal diversity: Protecting biodiversity protects human health because many plants and animals are used in modern medicines

Carbon offsets have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change, but to make the greatest impact we must understand both their benefits AND drawbacks. 

You can find out all about it in our article “Can You Really Offset Your Carbon Footprint? Here Are the Facts

Final Thoughts

Ecologi, Offset Alliance, Zero Smart, EcoCRED, tentree, 8 Billion Trees, Wren, Terrapass, and Carbonfund have the best carbon offset options for families looking to reduce their carbon footprint. They are third-party verified, permanent, additional, use the leading carbon offset standards, and adhere to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Although they have been touted as a solution to climate change and a panacea for all of our climate-related problems, carbon offsets should not be seen or used as such. They are effective at reducing CO2 in the short-term, but in the long term they fail to reduce CO2 enough. When used in conjunction with direct CO2 reduction measures, carbon offsetting can be much more effective. We should reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible first, and only then choose the most effective carbon offset gifts.

Stay impactful,

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Grace Smoot

Grace loves to research and write about all things related to climate action and sustainability. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology and works as an Environmental Survey Technician. Outside of work, she loves to work out, play soccer, and take her dog for long walks.

Did you know that the internet is a huge polluter of the environment? But fortunately not this site. This site is powered by renewable energy and all hosting-related CO2 emissions are offset by three times as many renewable energy certificates. Find out all about it here.

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