According to the Global Carbon Project, carbon emissions from aviation were reduced by up to 60% as a result of mass grounding of flights during the pandemic. While these temporary reductions are positive, we have a renewed focus to return to air travel with a more eco-conscious mindset and ensure that progress can be long-lasting beyond COVID-19. As globetrotters, it’s our responsibility to travel sustainably and protect the Earth. Last time, we focused on ways to fly responsibly. Today, we expand beyond flight-specific tips and share more travel-related ways to reduce your ecological impact.
Tips for reducing your ecological impact
Extend your trips. If you needed an excuse to turn your 3-day weekend into a long vacation, tell your boss that it’s better for the environment! This ties back to the concept of “slow traveling,” which encourages people to mitigate the impacts of air travel by flying less frequently and staying for longer periods of time at each destination.
Try to avoid plastic. This one’s a given, but we want to emphasize just how many items that airlines distribute often come sealed in plastic including earphones, blankets, pillows, etc. Reduce your use of single-use plastics by bringing your own items from home such as reusable cups and cutlery.
Pack light, and pack smart. Simply put, heavy luggage requires more fuel. Minimize the amount of things to bring by opting for items that can serve multiple purposes.
Use sustainable luggage. If you’re in the market for new luggage, do your research on sustainable travel brands. For example, Lo & Sons offers various types of luggage that are made from recycled plastic bottles and 100% certified organic cotton.
Pack for a purpose. If you have some available space in your luggage, make the most of it by packing items in need. Use this resource to check if the destination you’re traveling to has a community project that you can support. Oftentimes, it’s small items like pencils, cards, etc. Plus, you’ll still have that free space to bring back souvenirs on the way home!
Share transportation. When leaving the airport, consider taking public transportation such as a train or shuttle bus. If you need to travel by car to get to your destination, try using App in the Air’s nearby feature to see if you can coordinate with other travelers and split a cab.
Avoid eating onboard. If you have a short flight, consider skipping the inflight meal or snack. Cabin waste, which includes waste from catering, is a main contributor to the aviation industry’s carbon footprint. One study found that a typical passenger generates 1.43 kilos (3.15 lbs) of cabin waste. And according to IATA, airlines are held to strict hygiene and quality control standards that often result in cabin waste incineration, rather than reusing or recycling.
As the world slowly begins to reopen and many of us return to air travel, keep these sustainable tips top-of-mind for your next trip.