Okay, let’s be honest, we all want to travel but there’s that whispering consciousness on ways to fly greener for our next trip…
As the plane roars down the runway, you might well feel that niggling guilt about your carbon footprint. Though, perhaps you’re on the other side of that fence quite frankly couldn’t give a damn. Thankfully, most of us are in the former camp and actually care about the environment!
This is exactly why I wanted to share some easy tips and ways to fly greener to help limit your carbon footprint when travelling.
Now, to put it bluntly, every form of transport (that uses fossil fuels) is a pollutant and even the greenest taxi, bus or electric train will have been constructed or at least manufactured in not-so-green ways. This is where perspective is key, none of us can truthfully avoid our environmental impact (unless you truly live off the grid) but there are some really easy tips to actually limit that impact as much as possible… especially when flying.
First off, there’s no way I was going to say you could never fly again. If you have family in Australia and you live in the UK, then I don’t expect you to windsail your way across oceans for two-months to see loved ones.
This is why I wanted to share some really easy, practical ways to fly greener and more sustainably.
1.) Choose the plane not the brand
Okay, so this is where my inner aviation geek comes out to play!
You see, I’ve still not met one person that can tell me that flying is totally green (at the moment) but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to bag a greener flight and earn some bragging rights whilst also zipping away somewhere nice. Actually, this is the same for all modes of transport but certainly true about planes. You see, the older, heavier and less efficient a plane is, the more fuel it uses.
Brand-spanking-new planes are usually lighter, more aerodynamic (a bigger word for ‘glides better’) and fuel-efficient. With much newer technology to make flight paths more efficient, lighter materials and more streamlined bodies make for a much greener flying experience (compared to those chunky planes from the 1960s).
This all means that it’s often about the plane itself, rather than the brand you fly with that makes your travel that bit greener.
Before booking your ticket, take a nosey around an airlines website to see what plane is used on your route of choice. Brands are usually quick to point out their newer planes. This all makes it pretty easy to find ways to fly greener.
2.) Pack Lighter
Now, let’s get things straight, I’m not going to start saying to weigh every pair of socks and only take one pair of underwear for a whole trip, but there is a power to packing lighter that’ll also mean you’re travelling greener.
So, if tend to fly, you might notice that some planes seem to take off pretty fast on a runaway, whilst others seem to chug along at a snail’s pace? This is all down to weight and just like me after eating too much chocolate at Christmas, they become sluggish. This all means that more power, thrust and fuel is needed to get them off the runway.
To make that plane work less hard, pack a little lighter and keep your flight that little bit greener. Sounds tedious? But trust me, if everyone does it, we will lower fuel consumption on those big gas guzzlers. It really is one of the easiest ways to fly greener.
Plus, an added win is that you’ll have less to lug around the airport.
3.) Offset your Carbon footprint
So, a number of organisations and airlines actually allow you to offset your carbon footprint by donating your loyalty miles or cash to NGOs that will help environmental projects around the world.
Organisations like Carbon Footprint can help you calculate your carbon footprint, donate money and then choose projects to support. This all makes it much easier than trying to sort it out by yourself.
Also, airlines like KLM have the option to lower your carbon footprint within your booking section on the app or ‘My trips’ section of the website. Here, they have a ‘CO2 Zero’ option where you can contribute to reforestation initiatives in places like Panama.
4.) Travel the most direct routes
Every second you spend travelling is realistically less green, this is why it makes sense to lower your time in the sky as much as possible. In fact, this is the same for cars, trains and buses too.
Say, for instance, if you’re travelling from London to New York it’s much more efficient to take a direct flight than booking a cheaper ticket that goes between London, connecting in Madrid and then heading over to New York. Usually, direct flights tend to be a little more expensive but they’re also greener.
5.) Do you need to fly?
Sometimes, flying might seem like the easiest option but there are times when it’s much more green to travel by public transport. For example, although there are numerous flights between London and Edinburgh, we always choose the train.
Not only is this a greener option but it actually ends up taking about the same amount of time once you factor in transport to the airports and the faff of security etc.
By limiting your time in the sky, you’re helping lower your carbon footprint that little bit more.
6.) Limit plastic usage in-flight
For the longest time, airlines have been notorious for the amount of plastic waste that is used within in-flight services. That cup of water, meals, wet-towels and packaging all contribute to a huge amount of waste that has to go somewhere after a flight.
Nowadays, some airports do recycle but that doesn’t take the responsibility from us, the flyer in the air. Make sure to take a reusable bottle on your flight and for the departure lounge, too. Lots of airports now have free water fountains, which all means less plastic is used on the flights and in airports.
7.) Limit the amenity kits you use
If you can, avoid the use of amenity kits that are often given out on international flights. You know, they’re the ones with a toothbrush, earplugs and socks in?
Each one of these has a hoard of items that is usually only used once by passengers, so, if you can avoid this by bringing your own reusable bits and bobs.
Alternatively, check out airlines that actually make their amenity kits from recycled goods. I know that British Airways Premium Economy kits are now made from recycled materials and as long as you recycle the waste, you can help keep single-use items to a minimum.
8.) Take longer holidays
I’ve not yet met someone that’s ever said I want a shorter holiday, that being said, it’s actually a great way to travel greener and more sustainably, too.
For example, rather than taking 6-weekend trips a year across Europe, opt for less and stay longer in each destination. This way, you’re keeping your flying time to a minimum but also keeping that holiday spirit by exploring and enjoying a trip.
9.) Fly economy
Yeah, I hear you!
We all want that first-class suite with a slice of class, panache, and a shed load of bragging rights, yeah? Though, you’ll be pleased to know that flying economy is one of the easiest ways to fly greener flying greener.
So, without turning this into some physics lesson on aviation engineering (or whatever it’s called), each square centimetre of space (and weight) you take upon a flight actually contributes to a higher carbon footprint. Essentially, the more space or weight you take, the more fuel is needed.
This all means that the more space you want on a flight, the less green your trip is. If planes can fly full (and we’re all seated in economy), they become much greener than flying in spaced-out or empty seats.
So, next time you traipse on down to economy, admiring those lay down beds in first class, just remember you’re helping keep travel that bit greener.
That being said, only a monster would turn down a free upgrade, so grab that with both hands and fling yourself into that seat. Just save me some bubbles! 😉
10.) Use electronic boarding passes
This might sound like an obvious win, but you’d be surprised how many of us still opt for paper copies of our boarding pass. If possible, download your boarding pass onto your phone and limit the extra paper usage, time and ink that goes into printing millions of boarding passes each day.
It might seem like a small gesture but if we all contribute we can make a massive impact on the ways to fly greener.