It should be no surprise that air travel is responsible for as much as 12% of the travel industry’s CO2 emissions, but instead of telling you that you should simply never fly again, we decided that it would be much more practical to share some tips as to how you make your next big trip a bit more eco-friendly!
From exploring distant destinations to experiencing different cultures, air travel allows us to quickly access far away places that we might not have otherwise been able to see with our own eyes… And it’s those experiences that can make people much more aware, open minded and even empathetic!
1) Fly Less
Admittedly, it is worth us emphasising that reducing the amount of air travel throughout the course of your life is likely the goal here… But did you know that an estimated 25% of an aeroplane’s fuel consumption occurs during taxiing and take off?? So, it isn’t just a reduction in trips that can reduce your carbon footprint, but flying direct more often and taking less individual flights that can help too!
2) Fly Economy
On a similar note, if an an airline has to make more trips to get passengers to and from any particular destination, much more fuel is used across multiple flights. So, if an airline is able to fit more passengers onto any particular flight, then they aren’t going to have to make quite as many trips - theoretically at least… Of course, it isn’t at all that simple and it isn’t really the way that airlines work. But that isn’t to say that picking an economy seat (if you’re even lucky enough to have the choice!) doesn’t result in a lower carbon footprint.
3) Pack light
On the other hand, when there is more weight on a plane, more fuel is going to be used. Therefore, the lighter your bag, the lower your carbon footprint! And who said that being a minimalist doesn’t has it’s benefits??
4) Carbon Offset
Let’s say that you’ve done everything you can to reduce your carbon footprint, but you still want to do more… Well, you’ll be happy to hear that you can do exactly that and can even aim to be carbon negative, and all you really have to do is plant some trees - or pay for someone else to plant them for you! Many companies offer carbon offsetting, from online travel agents to the airlines themselves, and if you can’t find the option when you book, then there are countless other companies online that are just a Google search away!
5) Pack your own snacks
The final thing that we wanted to suggest does involve a bit of prep work, but also has a big pay off! For one, airplane food can often come with an unbelievable amount of single use plastic, and it’s almost always extremely overpriced, right?! In the case that you can’t pre-pack your snacks, you could simply go without and save all of that plastic from going to landfill or, even worse, making it’s way to the ocean! Alternatively, we would recommend requesting vegan meals, as a plant based diet does have a lower carbon footprint and requires a heck of a lot less resources! And remember a reusable water bottle too!
As a bonus tip, it’s probably worth us saying that not all airlines are equally efficient. Norwegian Airlines, AirBerlin, Aerlingus and KLM have been ranked amongst the best for efficiency in Europe, and Frontier, Spirit and Southwest are some of the best for the US. Also something to bare in mind is the fact that newer planes are typically more efficient too - just like if you were to buy a new car! For example, the Airbus A319 and Boeing 787 are known to be among the more efficient aircraft.
Lastly, it’s important to not forget about how you’re going to get to and from the airport - public transport is of course going to be worth considering! Plus, with more and more cities becoming bicycle friendly, and with walking being such an easy way to get exercise, we could probably all do with a quick think about how we can reduce our carbon footprint when at home as well.
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