Fuel prices have recently dropped since last year, and subsequently, so have a lot of airfares. A ticket to Peru, Chile, Brazil, or better yet, all of the above, is now within easier reach. Regardless of the cost, however, the same amount of greenhouse gas is emitted during the flight while it burns the the now-cheaper, fuel. No matter what the ticket costs, a 14 hour flight to the tip of South America releases upwards of 1.5 tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, per person.
Beyond applauding innovations in aircraft fuel efficiency and lower emissions, there are things air travelers can do to trim the net environmental effect of their travel activities. Here are a few practical ideas:
Smart Trip Planning
Choose flights that make the journey efficiently. Less take offs and landings, and flights that are shorter and more direct will automatically save fuel, resulting in lower emissions. Consider taking one longer trip per year, including multiple stops in the same region or stopping over at a mid point “on the way”. Even if getting to each destination requires a short flight, it’s still more efficient than booking a series of round trip flights all the way from home and back again, and it’s usually cheaper. Taking a slightly longer trip is almost guaranteed to have it’s own bonus in terms of mental health – the “shift and lift” that can result from disconnecting from a daily home/work routine for more than a week at a time.
Carbon Offsets, Where You Want Them
By now, almost everyone has encountered an online “calculator” that approximates the “carbon footprint” , or adverse environmental effect, of certain activities, including air travel. There’s a growing array of organizations selling carbon offset “credits” which contribute to “offsetting” damage done by CO2 emmissions, by contributing to some form of repair. The money mainly supportsÂ things like planting trees, or projects pertaining to clean and/or renewable energy. Whether or not the calculators or credits are truly accurate in ultimately “neutralizing” the emissions, it’s an opportunity to give something back.
With so many “offset” choices, it’s natural to question just what is happens with the credits. Some organizations undergo verification by third parties, others published extensive reports on the web or upon request.Â What’s particularly exciting is that it’s possible to apply credits toward particular projects that are right under your, well, wings. Flying to Central America? You can “Buy American” and purchase offsets that benefit projects that lie right along your path. For example, the Maya Nut tree Programme. Ecuador?Â CanopyCo focuses on environmental projects specifically in rural Ecuador.
“Recycle” Your Stuff
The concept: Donate things like wearable clothes, eyeglasses, and school supplies to local non-profit organizations. Over packers can lighten their loads to give back to local communities, possibly making room for souvenirs at the same time.
With a little bit of research, it gets easier to make travel choices that can make a good trip a trip to feel good about.