Travelling Often? Here are 5 Tips For Offsetting Your Carbon Footprint

06 Nov 2019

In 2019, climate change is one of the big issues at the forefront of global consciousness. Opposing views dwell on all sides of conversations about greenhouse gases, global warming, and emissions. In 2019, climate change debates can be polarising but no matter where one stands, the issues transcend borders, nationalities, and cultures … it is everyone’s problem.

Carbon dioxide emitted by commercial flights rose by 32% from 2013 to 2018. Against this backdrop, travel industry suppliers and consumers are under mounting pressure to reduce CO2 emissions. Frantic business travel schedules and the resultant footprint jet setting leaves behind is an uncomfortable truth, however, there are steps travellers can take to counterbalance emissions and be a part of the solution.


1. Contribute to a carbon offset fund

While “throwing money at the problem” might seem like a shallow response, supporting a carbon offset fund does lessen the ecological impact of travel. Contributions to carbon offset programs are ploughed into conservation initiatives such as renewable energy projects and planting forests. Some airlines offer customers an optional flight emission offset contribution at the time of booking. If this is unavailable, it’s still possible to pay into a fund in an independent capacity. 


2. Hotel health

Even though the spotlight is largely on air travel in the context of climate change, what travellers do on the ground also matters. Hotel stays on business trips can bring out our self-indulgent side as the hospitality industry invites us to luxuriate in an array of creature comforts. However, this behaviour is part of the larger problem. To become more sustainable, travellers are encouraged to act in a hotel as they would at home – avoid getting clean towels when unnecessary, keep showers short and remember to turn off the TV, lights, and aircon when exiting the room.


3. Pack light

Every kilo counts when flying. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it generates as it burns more fuel. For business travellers, packing light is a no-brainer. Packing as little luggage as possible creates a more tolerable travel experience, and by consciously cutting back on oversized cases and trivial belongings you’ll be doing your bit for the environment.


4. Avoid bottled water

Plastic waste places a huge burden on our environment. While buying bottled water in a foreign country can be an inevitable cost of travel, where possible, travellers are encouraged to make a reusable water bottle part of their routine packing list. A BPA-free water bottle saves money and can be refilled at safe water sources on a journey. Many hotels and airports have installed purpose-built filtered water dispensers that can be used to replenish eco-friendly bottles for free.


5. Book direct flights

Take-offs and landings create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions so try to book non-stop flights whenever you can. Aside from shortening the time spent at 36 000 feet, getting to a destination efficiently is much gentler on human health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the airline you choose can make a tangible difference in traveller CO2 emissions. For example, KLM uses biofuels on certain routes.

Even though the aviation industry accounts for around two percent of global carbon emissions, the calls to spend less time flying sound louder around the world. In practice, travellers should take up smaller and more reasonable steps to ease the impact. In many cases, all it takes to become a more responsible traveller is a little effort in overcoming habits and some discretion in travel purchasing decisions. Green travel becomes much easier to apply when you’re saving time, money and the natural world.