How to Minimize Your Environmental Impact While Flying

As you begin to plan your trips for the new year, rethink the way you fly. While flying can save you hours of travel, planes are the worst modes of transportation when it comes to CO2 emissions. Additionally, the manufacturing, processing and fuel transportation associated with mass flights has a negative impact on the environment. Liquid fuels such as oil or petroleum make up 36% of total carbon emissions. Here are five ways you can lessen your carbon emissions and still enjoy your trip.

Go for the direct flight.

Cut out the connecting flights whenever possible. The myth is that direct flights are more expensive, but it can actually be lighter on the wallet, depending on when you book your ticket. Reducing the number of flight connections will reduce fuel usage and manufacturing impact.

Fly during the day.

Rise and shine, travelers! Flying during the day is better for the environment, so book your travel to fly from dawn to dusk if possible. Contrails caused by your plane will reflect some sunlight away from the Earth in addition to securing warmth in the atmosphere. Contrails add to the greenhouse effect, according to researchers. This happens more at night.

Pack light.

Try a carry-on backpack that extends into an overnight bag, or one suitcase. The more baggage you bring, the more baggage the plane has to accommodate which can burn more fuel and thus more carbon emissions. Why? Because the heavier a plane is, the longer it takes to land and take off. An average of 50% of TOTAL carbon emissions come from takeoff and landing!

Buy carbon offsets

Purchasing carbon offsets ahead of time (or after) is another way to take the extra step toward conscious travel and making a difference in the environment. Carbon offset credits are purchased by you through an organization or third-party who has researched, selected, and verified a variety of renewable energy projects where your carbon emissions will be “offset” by these other projects elsewhere. So while you’re flying from North Carolina to California, you can rest assured that your carbon emissions from your flight will be offset by a project such as a hydroelectric grid plant in another state. Check out Carbonfund or TerraPass as two of many third-party organizations that offer carbon offset purchase options.

Take a train instead.

Another scenic route option is to take a train instead of flying. Trains are about 70% more efficient than planes when it comes to environmental impact. For short trips, this can be cost-effective, too.

With a little planning and your new know-how, you can fly in style and help the environment at the same time.