Headed home for the holidays? Our guide to green flying has got you covered.
Global air traffic peaks every year around the holiday season – and, although COVID-19 has kept many of us grounded for much of the year, 2020 is no exception. While the CDC continues to advise against most forms of non-essential travel, airlines worldwide are expecting a spike in passengers as the holidays roll around.
The problem? Traveling by plane is rough on the planet.
The aviation industry is responsible for 2.5% of global carbon emissions, and that number is rising 1.5 times quicker than previously predicted. With yearly passenger numbers set to double by 2037, there’s no slow-down in sight.
Greener Ways to Get There
While overall fuel economy is improving throughout the aviation industry, and biofuels are becoming cheaper and more common, the best way to support green flying is still – fly less.
Instead of taking to the skies for your next trip, consider choosing a more environmentally friendly option. Shared transportation is almost always the lowest-impact mode of travel. Buses, trains, and carpooling increase the number of people in a vehicle, reducing your individual footprint.
But, you’re probably weighing more than emissions when planning your holiday travel this year. Shared transportation, including flying, often involves extended periods of contact with people outside your household.
The good news: even driving solo can be more environmentally friendly than a short or mid-distance flight. Taking a family road-trip? Every additional person in your vehicle improves your overall efficiency – meaning, with company, even longer drives can be greener than flying.
While safety is a matter of personal comfort, this emissions calculator can help you determine the carbon impact of different modes of transport. (At least something is easy this year!)
If you’ve decided flying is the right choice for you, we’ve pulled together a few tips to help reduce your carbon footprint.
8 Tips for Eco-Friendly Air Travel
1. Skip the Layover
One of the best ways to reduce your footprint is to select an itinerary that keeps you in the air and off the runway as much as possible. That’s because takeoff and landing account for 25% of the emissions produced during a standard flight – for shorter journeys, even higher! A recent study found that a direct route saves an average of 100kg of CO2 per person than one with connecting flights. That’s the equivalent of powering a refrigerator for an entire year!
2. Look for Newer Aircrafts
Every generation of aircraft makes advances in fuel economy, so flying in a newer vessel can help reduce your carbon footprint. Book through an app or airline that highlights flights with lower-than-average emissions to save yourself the research. Skyscanner’s “greener choice” label uses fuel efficiency, carrying capacity, and distance traveled to calculate Earth-friendly options.
Look before you book: When it comes to green flying, all airlines are not created equal. See how your carrier has performed in recent years with the Atmosfair Airline Index report, which takes into account aircraft model and age, passenger capacity, and occupancy rates.
3. Fly Economy Class
Since individual carbon emissions are calculated by the space a passenger takes up on an aircraft, economy-class trades in legroom for a lower footprint. Prefer priority seating? Studies show your ticket isn’t the only thing with a higher price tag. Flying business class can increase your impact three-fold. First-class? Up to nine times higher.
4. Bank on Budget Airlines
Here’s some good news for your footprint and your wallet: budget airlines tend to be more carbon-efficient. That’s because they make better use of space by offering more economy seats. Plus, since most budget airlines use a pay-as-you-go approach for add-ons like food, drinks, and additional baggage, they minimize waste and unnecessary weight onboard.
5. Prioritize Eco-Friendly Airports
Reduce your footprint before you hit the runway by flying out of a green airport. These airports reduce emissions by powering their operations with alternative energy, investing in biofuels, or designing green principles into expansions and updates. Check this list of participating airports to see if there’s a planet-forward option near you.
6. Stick Around Longer
When possible, opt for fewer, longer trips home rather than several quick visits throughout the year. Skipping a single roundtrip flight from coast to coast can save the equivalent of two-and-a-half months of automobile emissions. Zoom get-together, anyone?
7. Reduce Your Day-Of Impact
While your flight accounts for the majority of your carbon footprint, there are several ways you can support green flying with your personal practices on the day of your flight. Consider the following:
- Pre-Order Vegetarian: Swap the in-flight pot roast for a plant-based option to reduce your overall impact for the day.
- Bring Reusables: Airlines generated 6.7 million pounds of cabin waste in 2018. Nip that number by bringing your own drink container, silverware, hand sanitizer, and face masks.
- Go Paperless: The planetary cost of a paper boarding pass is small, but the global airline industry serves millions of passengers each day. Download a digital ticket and play your part.
- Pack Light: The heavier your luggage, the more fuel it takes to haul your stuff. Stick to the essentials for a lower carbon footprint.
8. Offset Your Impact
Compensate for your flight’s emissions by purchasing a carbon offset. Carbon offsets allow governments, businesses, and individuals to contribute directly to programs working to remove C02e from the atmosphere. Your offset can support reforestation, renewable energy, direct carbon capture, energy efficiency improvements, and more.
Our blog How to Buy Carbon Offsets takes a deep dive into the details. Even better, Open the Joro app to offset your flight today.
Offsetting Your Flight? Here’s What You Need to Know
While carbon offsetting is an imperfect solution, if we do choose to fly, it’s one of the best tools we have to mitigate our impact until truly sustainable alternatives become available.
Interested in offsetting your holiday travel? Great! Before you make your purchase, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Acknowledge the Limitations of Offsets
We believe purchasing high-quality carbon offsets can be effective when paired with an overall practice to reduce impact. The Joro app allows you to track your habits, develop greener practices, and purchase verified carbon offsets to compensate for the parts of your lifestyle you can’t change yet.
- Don’t think of it as a license to pollute: Some critics say offsetting may de-incentivize individuals and organizations from adopting more environmentally-friendly practices. Remember, purchasing a carbon offset is only part of maintaining a sustainability mindset.
- Keep privilege top of mind: Carbon offsetting can exacerbate existing class-inequalities. That’s because wealthy populations tend to have higher carbon footprints, while poorer communities bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change.
- Choose your offset wisely: Carbon offsetting is one of the most poorly regulated industries in the United States. This creates a lack of transparency, meaning ineffective offsets often receive contributions that might otherwise be invested in higher-quality programs.
Not all Carbon Offsets are Created Equal
At Joro, we feature only the highest-quality carbon offsets and never accept incentives to promote certain projects. In addition to conducting deep research to select offsets that meet rigorous carbon-efficacy standards, we prioritize projects that champion:
- Equity and Justice: The poorest and most vulnerable populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change. When possible, we support projects that work to benefit these communities.
- Additional Benefits: We prioritize projects with positive impact beyond carbon reduction – such as job creation, conservation and biodiversity, climate adaptation, and future project potential.
- Recent Vintage: Our carbon offsets are recently verified to link today’s impact to tomorrow’s solution.
- Partner Efficiency: We work with partners who demonstrate transparency throughout their entire process – reducing complexities and fees and maximizing the impact of your investment.
- Ecosystem Alignment: We support projects that advance the globally-recognized UN Sustainable Development Goals and Project Drawdown Solutions.
Read more about the offset projects we support and our approval process here.
Ready to kickstart your climate practice? Download Joro today and purchase a carbon offset if you are flying this holiday season.