In 2017 alone, airlines in the United States carried more passengers than ever before — a whopping 849.3 million travelers. Though flying is more popular than ever, there is a problem. Passengers who fly frequently are increasing their carbon footprint. Flying takes a lot of manpower and fuel, and isn’t great for the environment. You can actually calculate your own flight emissions to see just how much CO2 your flight will be releasing.
Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone who travels a lot needs to do damage to the environment. Many passengers practice carbon offsetting to make up for the emissions put out by air travel.
So, what is carbon offsetting? If you’re a frequent flyer, what can you do in the rest of your life to combat the carbon emissions given off during each flight?
What is Carbon Offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a way to balance out the pollution caused by frequently flying. Traditional “carbon offsets” are when you invest in projects meant to fight and reduce greenhouse gasses caused by pollution. These projects may be planting trees and managing rainforests, or organizations that help farmers adopt sustainable and eco-friendly practices. You can purchase carbon offsets that correlate with the amount of pollution that will result from your travel, and you can calculate those amounts with online calculators.
Airplane travel currently accounts for about 3% of the United States’ CO2 emissions. That might not seem like a lot, but it is taking a hefty toll on the planet and contributing to global warming.
Thankfully, carbon offsets are meant to help “balance” these emissions. You don’t even need to be a frequent flyer to offset your flight(s). Think of it this way: It’s a process of give and take. If you take a flight anywhere, give something back that will help to offset the CO2 emissions produced by the plane. Of course, it can still feel a bit off-putting to essentially pay to pollute. Additionally, not everyone can afford to invest in projects and also travel.
Thankfully, buying carbon offsets isn’t the only way you can go about offsetting your carbon footprint. People can also do this by making positive environmental changes elsewhere in their lives, or taking on projects that actually help the planet, rather than harming it.
Not sure where to get started? Let’s look at a few ideas you can put into practice.
What Else Can You Do to Practice Carbon Offsetting?
There are so many ways to reduce the environmental impact caused by flying. Everything from planting trees to working with a company to improve its green energy practices can help and make a difference. Do you work in a large building? Why not encourage your employer to make your place of work “greener” by doing things like installing energy-efficient lighting, and adopting a paperless policy. It’s up to businesses to alleviate carbon emissions in order to prevent a significant increase in the planet’s temperature.
You can also make a difference at work by recycling, managing water use, and turning off computers and other electronics at the end of each day. Of course, you can put these habits into practice at home, too. If you want to get your family onboard, turn energy-saving into a game. Challenge your family to take shorter showers, or to turn electronics off when they’re not in use.
The way you travel day-to-day can also help to offset carbon emissions. Choosing the right vehicle can help to lower emissions. Hybrid vehicles are a great option, but autonomous cars can also help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 60%. This is due to the fact that they use optimized driving, so there isn’t an excess of gas being used and released.
If you really want to lower your impact on the planet, forego the car altogether, and choose other forms of travel for your daily commute! Traveling by bicycle is a great way to get from one place to another and releases zero carbon emissions, so it’s a wonderful form of carbon offsetting. It can also help you to stay active and get in shape!
Changing the Way You Travel
Whether you’re a frequent flyer or just someone who takes the occasional trip for work or for fun, finding forms of alternative travel can be a great way to offset the damage caused by airplanes.
One way to do that is to practice ecotourism. It’s nothing new, but not everyone follows the “rules” of it when they choose to travel, and it’s not that difficult to do. Ecotourism focuses on a lot of things, including low-impact travel and conservation. It also puts a lot of focus on sustainability, which is crucial for the health of the planet’s future. Learning as much as you can about ecotourism and how to be more socially conscious when you travel is a great way to offset your flights before you even get back home!
Understanding some of the statistics associated with flying, carbon emissions, and global warming can be staggering. In truth, it’s scary. It’s even more frightening because so many people fly every single day, and the numbers across the globe are even worse when it comes to emissions. Thankfully, carbon offsetting can make a difference. If every person who flew decided to offset that impact with just a few simple changes, our world could be in much better shape for the future.
- Everything You Need to Know About Carbon Offsetting Your Flights - March 10, 2020