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5 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint While Traveling

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Did you know that the travel industry accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions? That's a staggering number, and as travelers, we have a responsibility to minimize our impact on the environment. Sustainable travel is more important than ever, and there are plenty of ways we can make a difference. By choosing…

  • eco-friendly accommodation,

  • reducing plastic waste, and

  • supporting local communities,

...we can travel in a way that benefits both ourselves and the planet.

Here are five simple tips that you can follow to travel responsibly and reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Choose sustainable transportation options such as public transport, carpooling, or cycling whenever possible.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the aviation industry contributes about 2% of global carbon emissions. However, when you include other emissions such as nitrogen oxides and water vapor, the impact is much larger.

A single round-trip flight from New York to London emits approximately 1.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. This is roughly equivalent to driving a car for a year!

That is why it is more sustainable to travel by train. Here are some its advantages:

  • Time savings: Train travel can save time compared to air travel because you don't need to arrive at the station hours in advance, as you do with airports. Additionally, train stations are often located in the center of cities, making them more convenient than airports, which are often located outside of urban areas. This can save time on transportation to and from the airport.

  • Comfort: Train travel can be more comfortable than air travel or driving, with more legroom, larger seats, and the ability to move around the train cars. Many trains also offer amenities such as onboard wifi, dining cars, and lounges, making the journey more enjoyable.

  • Scenic views: Train travel allows you to see the scenery and the surrounding landscape up close, unlike air travel where you only see the view from above. This can make the journey more enjoyable and provide an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the journey.

  • Environmental benefits: Train travel is generally more environmentally friendly than air travel or driving because trains produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile. This makes it a more sustainable option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

  • Cost savings: Train travel can be more affordable than air travel, particularly for shorter distances. Additionally, many train routes offer discounts for students, seniors, and other groups, making it a more accessible form of transportation for a wider range of travelers.

2. Pack light and avoid using single-use plastics on your trip. It's important to pack light and avoid single-use plastics because it reduces the amount of waste generated during travel and helps to minimize the environmental impact of tourism.

3. Choose Eco-friendly accommodation options such as green hotels or eco-lodges that use renewable energy sources and practice sustainable waste management techniques.

Hotels contribute to pollution through their energy consumption, water usage, and waste production. The World Tourism Organization estimates that hotel and resort operations are responsible for around 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Water overuse in hotels is also a significant issue, with guests using an average of 180 gallons of water per day in some high-end resorts.

According to a report by the International Tourism Partnership and the World Travel & Tourism Council, hotels worldwide generate an estimated 5 million tons of waste each year. If you put 5 million tons of waste into a pile, it would be equivalent to roughly 500,000 fully loaded garbage trucks lined up bumper-to-bumper, stretching for more than 1,000 miles. That's longer than the distance from New York City to Miami, or from London to Athens.

Here are a few low-waste hotels you can choose instead when planning for your next trip:

4. Support local businesses and communities by buying locally produced goods and services whenever possible. Buying locally reduces the need for transportation, plus the food produced locally is much more nutritious than imported food.

5. Reduce energy consumption: Be mindful of your energy use while traveling, such as turning off lights and electronics when not in use, and reducing the use of heating and air conditioning.

By following these simple tips, you can help reduce your carbon footprint while traveling and contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet!

Conclusion: Start Taking Steps Today to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and it’s up to us to take action. Reducing your carbon footprint is an important step in helping to protect the environment and ensure a sustainable future. Taking small steps today can make a big difference in the long run.

Be sure to save a spot at our upcoming virtual Emerald Summit: Eco-Business Network, on October 27th, 2023, from 9 am - 5 pm ET to hear from inspiring and informative sustainable speakers, be part of the Wallet Max Awards 2023, and take part in a 1-hr networking session.


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