We love to travel. However, with the types of schedules that families live with nowadays, flying is the way to get to their vacation destinations far more often than they would like, especially when they learn how much of an impact this mode of transportation has on the environment. But, there are ways to help alleviate the pressure and guilt we feel every time we climb on a plane. Dr. David Suzuki and his foundation, the David Suzuki Foundation, came up with a detailed list of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution when looking to get a little R and R.
However, there are times when flying may be unavoidable, or there may be the need to travel for work. There are viable solutions possible to these situations, or accommodating everyone’s schedule could be the way to make your company save money and time – all the while keeping your footprint as low as possible. Air travel being the mode of transportation with the highest impact per kilometer per person, read on for ideas on how to reduce your personal footprint.
First and foremost, take a good look at your itinerary and plans to see if air travel is absolutely necessary. Consider the train, the bus, driving, or carpooling with other people. Sometimes there are other solutions that are not only greener, but much more cost effective and less stressful. Or, if you can pick a travel destination closer to home, this may be the best option. Although visiting exotic destinations is exciting, consider seeing your own home land and discovering what fascinating landscape it has to offer. If you are travelling for work, look for places to meet that are convenient for everyone and avoid using vacation spots for meetings. These are great moral boosters only on a temporary level since keeping the environment green is the way to ensure all the planet’s inhabitants are happy on a long-term basis.
If you are travelling for business meetings, try to book several for each trip, therefore minimizing the number of trips needed. Make it a short vacation at the same time, if you can allow it in your schedule.
As for the actual flight per se, studies have shown that flying during the day actually has a smaller impact than during the night since the exhaust trail that appears in the sky behind the plane actually reflects some of the sun that would enter the Earth’s atmosphere which during the night, all they do is keep hot air in – thus contributing to global warming. Then, keep luggage to a minimum – you don’t need to bring your entire closet with you and the lighter you travel, the less fuel is burnt. Fly economy, and ask your airline to stop reserving large spaces for a few ‘special’ clients. The more people on a plane, the smaller the amount of emissions is per person. Or, choose an airline that does not have different sections – such as WestJet in Canada. Lastly, take the most direct route possible. Take-offs and landings are what use the most fuel.
Of course, there are a few solutions that help reduce your impact in other ways. Carbon offsets are a great way to make up for the times that you can’t avoid flying. Also, consider other ways to have meetings. Video-conferencing ensures that everyone is present and it is just as efficient as having everyone in the same room, and Skype can be used to contact those you need to speak with as well. This option is also great for keeping in touch with family and friends.
If you want to voice your opinion on another level than in your own company, consider contacting your local political representatives to let them know that they should find ways to reduce the impact of travelling. Let them know that carbon offsets can become obligatory; ask them to find a less damaging alternative to fuel; or request that a law be passed to limit the amount of travel made by company representatives.
Click here for more details as to why air travel is the most polluting solution.