Flying is probably one of the worst things you can do for the environment, as the aviation industry has one of the largest carbon dioxide emissions. According to The European Commission, direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. But for many, flying is inevitable, and we do love to travel. The good news is, there a few measures you can do to minimise your carbon emissions when you travel. So, how can you reduce your carbon footprints while flying?
1.Book direct flights and fly less
It’s important to know that fuel is emitted most during takeoff and landing. So the fewer flights you take, the less takeoff and landings, which means less fuel emission that is seeping into the air. Therefore, try to book a direct flight as often as you can. You can also check the fuel efficiency of different airlines to make sure you fly with the ones who have the least carbon emissions. For example, according to the Transatlantic airline fuel efficiency ranking, Norwegian Air Shuttle was the world’s most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes in 2017. They had an average fuel efficiency of 44 passenger-kilometres per litre of fuel (pax-km/L), which is 33% higher than the industry average. You can see the full ranking in the report, which may help you book your next flight and travel a little bit greener. There are also online tools such as flight carbon footprint calculator which can be used to estimate the carbon emissions for your flights, which can assist you in making more conscious travel decisions.
2. Offset your emission
Another thing to consider when booking your flight is to buy carbon offsets. Carbon offsetting essentially means that the airline tries to reduce the carbon dioxide you have contributed as a passenger by doing a variety of initiatives. Norwegian for instance actively engages in tree planting projects around the world to help reduce emissions and are working on projects to make the fleet even greener. A number of airlines, including SAS, Delta, Jet Blue, United and Lufthansa, to mention a few, offers carbon offset programs. Thus, some airlines don't always make this clear or offer the option during the ticket buying process.
3. Fly Economy
Not only is flying economy cheaper than flying premium, but it’s also greener according to research by The World Bank. This is because when you fly First Class or Business, this means more space per seat, which equates to more carbon per passenger, especially as these classes often have a higher number of unsold seats and allow more luggage which then adds to weight and carbon. So all in all, flying economy is good for your wallet - and the environment.
4. Pack lightly and smart
Travelling with a carry-on or less luggage is not only cheaper and quicker, but it also contributes to fewer carbon emissions in the air. This is because the more cargo the aircraft is carrying, the more fuel it will need, emitting more carbon dioxide into the environment. Although most of the wight comes from the aircrafts infrastructure itself and the fuel it carries, packing a little lighter will make a small difference. Most of the time we pack up to what we are allowed to bring, because, why not? Although, we probably only wear half of the clothes we brought. So next time you fly, make it a goal to fit all your items into a carry-on. You’ll be amazed by what you actually need. It just requires a little bit of preparation and planning.
5. Reduce your trash and increase your reuse
In order to minimise your footprints and travel as green as possible, there are a few measures you can do to reduce trash:
Every year, billions of passengers fly and take with them at least one piece of luggage. Each of these has a separate tag made of paper and silicon, which is used once and then thrown away. With bagID GO, no more tags, and it’s both durable and helps make air travel more sustainable, letting you enjoy your journey with a clear conscience. Using the airlines' own apps to download your boarding pass will also save paper and the environment.
Lastly, as a part of your smart packing, bring a reusable water bottle, a reusable coffee cup (if you’re a heavy coffee drinker) and bring snacks for the flight wrapped in bee wax paper or a reusable cotton bag, for instance.
Once you're on the flight, you might want some other beverages than water. Then ask the flight attendant to get your drink without a plastic stirrer and no straw, unless they are paper straws. Also, check what types of cups they serve their beverages in as hot drinks like coffee and tea might come in styrofoam - not paper.