Sustainability and carbon footprint have been discussed a lot in the past years, and rightfully so. If you are like me: you love to travel by plane but are still concerned about the impacts it will have on our environment and precious planet earth, then this post is for you! I will share the tips to reduce your carbon footprint, so keep on reading.
The aviation industry creates 2.5% of CO2 emissions globally (ourworldindata.org, 2016). On a bigger scale, the aviation industry’s carbon emissions are smaller than expected when comparing different sectors. However, traveling has been increasing a lot before the pandemic. This is why making traveling more sustainable is a valid matter to be considered alongside other sectors. Several factors contribute to creating a carbon footprint in the aviation industry, and not all of them can be in your control. However, there are many matters that you can take into consideration while traveling by airplane. Here are six tips on how you can have a positive impact on your carbon footprint:
- TRAVEL LIGHT TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
- COMPARE AIRLINES
- FLY ON ECONOMY
- BRING YOUR OWN IN-CABIN ITEMS
- PLAN YOUR FLIGHTS
- CALCULATE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
1.Travel light to reduce your carbon footprint
By packing less than you need and cutting down on excess weight, you can reduce your carbon footprint. Did you know that if every passenger packed only 1kg less, it would reduce the carbon emissions by up to 1%? Although it might not seem much, collectively, we could make a big difference to emissions. Overall, the more cargo aircraft is carrying, the more fuel the plane has to use. Calculating weights correctly and having carry-on and luggage weight limits is sustainable and also a significant safety matter.
Comparing airlines and their values is essential. Choose airlines that are making their best effort to reduce their part in greenhouse emissions, use modern and fuel-efficient aircraft fleet, and actively seek sustainable partnerships. The newest aircraft models generate up to 25% fewer emissions than the older ones. You can find information on the airline pages. Airlines interested in making their business more sustainable will provide details, and also possibly, an annual sustainability report. For example, Finnair has a section where they give information about their sustainability and partnerships. You can find it here: https://company.finnair.com/en/sustainability.
Unfortunately, not all airlines and stations recycle their cabin waste or even have the possibility to do so when it comes to recycling. Countries and airports have different regulations when it comes to dealing with garbage brought in by aircraft. Sadly, this is an issue since there is not enough space in most aircraft for separate waste. An increasing number of countries have good waste management facilities and are taking this issue under consideration. You can find more information about sustainability at airports here: https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/pages/ecoairports.aspx.
3. Choose your seat when flying
Flying in the economy class creates fewer emissions compared to other classes. A passenger in first class emitted 2.6 to 4.3 times more CO2 per kilometer than a passenger in the economy class, depending on the aircraft class. However, it’s good to keep in mind that the aircraft model and your luggage weight contribute too. Coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of flights operated by private planes. Although using a private plane is not so common for most of us, the amount of emissions they cause is beyond shocking. A private jet passengers account for ten times as many greenhouse gas emissions as a commercial economy class traveler.
4.Bring your own in-cabin items
It might sound odd to bring your own items, but it can have a significant impact collectively over the long run. This is, of course, excluding any alcoholic beverage (that is not in a sealed tax-free bag). Things that you can carry with you are:
● Headphones with a standard audio connector. Not all planes have screens attached to the seats, but you can use your headphones if you like to use inflight entertainment. Using your own headphones reduces the amount of waste after each flight since they are not reused or recycled (except for business class).
● Food or preordering meals: There was a time when airlines provided all the meals for free to each passenger. Some airlines still do for short-haul flights also. However, this comes with a downside: tons of food waste. Not to mention that the more weight, the more kerosine will have to be fueled in. Pre-ordering meals or bringing your
food will help. Usually, all the airlines have meals included in the price for flights over 6 hours.
● Reusable bottles: You can have your reusable bottles on board and have them filled. Many airlines are switching their plastic cups and cutlery into more sustainable versions, but utility items like these still create much extra waste.
5.Plan your flights
It’s always better for the environment to choose direct flights. Of course, this is not always possible. Take-offs and landings create more carbon emissions, so it’s a good idea to choose a non-stop flight and choose the shortest route. Also, think if you can combine other transportation methods, such as taking the flight and continuing your journey by train after it.
6.Calculate your carbon footprint
Suppose you are interested to know how much your trip will cause carbon emissions. In that case, you can calculate your carbon footprint here: https://oceanfdn.org/calculator/. The average carbon footprint for two people taking a 7-day vacation in London (travel by air from New York, flight time approx. 6.2 hours) will cause around 1.66 tonnes of carbon emissions, equivalent to 201,927 smartphones charged.
This topic, and sustainability in general, is close to my values, and I want to raise awareness specifically while choosing to travel by plane. Over time, and with new inventions, there will be even more sustainable solutions for air travel. In the meanwhile, we can support the environment with our actions and everyday choices. Carbon emissions caused by flying shouldn’t make us completely stop air travel but simply just be a matter of awareness and intelligent decisions. I believe that connecting the world with traveling will bring us more benefits despite the setbacks we face right now. The world and the global economy need traveling, and we as humans need it too. It is our responsibility together to make this life the best we can.Connect with me