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10 Ways Travelers Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprints

By Danielle Dorsey

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Most of us travel out of love and passion for this great big earth we live on. We’re motivated to see more, to explore its natural wonders and learn the cultures it’s helped to birth. That’s why it’s so important for travelers to be examples of how to wander with intention and do our best to preserve this planet which has given us so much.

1. Participate in ecotourism 

One of the most effective ways to give back to the environment while traveling is to plan a trip centered around conservation efforts like helping baby sea turtles return to the wild or cleaning plastic and trash out of oceans and on beaches. If you’re not a fan of volunteering during your time off, you can visit protected natural landmarks like the Amazon rainforest, Antarctica, or the Galapagos Islands.

2. Fly on a fuel-efficient aircraft

You might have noticed when booking flights that you’ll sometimes be presented with an option to book on a fuel-efficient airline. These are aircraft that generate few carbon emissions, thus reducing your travel footprint. These aircraft are often newer which means that buying a seat on them can sometimes cost a little more, but prices are likely to go down as more people opt for this option and create a demand for a fuel-efficient aircraft. Here are a few fuel-efficient aircraft models to watch out for:

  • Airbus A3250 XWB
  • Airbus A380
  • Boeing B787-800 Dreamliner
  • Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental

3. Book flights with eco-friendly airlines

Flying by plane does the most damage to the environment when compared to alternative methods of transportation, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Thankfully, some airlines are making an effort to reduce carbon emissions, even offering an opportunity to purchase carbon offsets when booking your flight which is then invested in third-party projects designed to reduce carbon emissions. Here’s a report from environmental group Atmosfair with the most eco-friendly airlines of 2019. 

4. Book economy

Now when you sit in the economy class, you can say you’re doing it for the environment! First class seats might offer more leg room, but that extra space increases the amount of fuel used per passenger.

5. Fly nonstop

Flight changes can be tiresome and choosing to fly nonstop to your destination could save jet fuel. Choose an airline that’s committed to preserving the environment, such as JetBlue, which promotes the environmental health of their destinations and offers carbon offsets. British Airways and Southwest Air recycle all cabin waste. 

6. Use public transportation whenever possible

Instead of relying on cabs, do research on public transportation options in your destination of choice. Traveling by train or bus is a great way to meet locals and familiarize yourself with a new city and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. If public transportation is not available, look into ridesharing apps. Some cities take it a step further by using natural gas or cleaner fuel options rather than petroleum-based fuel.

7. Book an eco-friendly hotel 

More and more hotels are taking measures to reduce their carbon footprints and certifications exist for resorts who make sustainability a part of their mission. Look for “LEED-certified” or “green certified” hotels when booking and search on the app Glooby for eco-friendly hotel options around the world. 

8. Reduce water waste

Pack a reusable water bottle in your suitcase and you’ll save money and plastic bottles from being wasted. If you’re traveling somewhere where filtered water is a concern, you can shop reusable bottles that come with a built-in filter. If you’re planning on staying somewhere for a while, it might even be worth it to pack a reusable coffee mug, which will sometimes get you a discount at cafes and restaurants. 

9. Go easy on hotel amenities

It can be tempting to splurge on amenities when staying at a hotel, perhaps by taking a longer-than-usual shower or keeping the air conditioning blasting Try to be more mindful and stick to similar habits that you keep at home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, laundry accounts for 16 percent of the average hotel’s water usage, meaning that you can make a difference by reusing sheets and towels.

10. Turn off your electronics while away 

Before you jump on your flight, make sure that your electronics at home are turned off. In addition to switching off the lights and turning down your thermostat, you can also unplug all of your electronics, which draw energy even if they’re fully charged or turned off.

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Danielle Dorsey

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