When the Wright brothers first took to the skies just over 100 years ago, could we ever have imagined that by 2018 there would be an astonishing 3.77 billion people flying every year?! It’s a figure that has been significantly increasing annually for decades, and with the meteoric rise of commercial air transportation, more and more aircraft are brought in to service demand.
It is estimated that there are as many as 6000 in flight at any given time, and up to 16,000 in the air during peak times – with one plane taking off and landing every second somewhere around the world. Those interested can check the fascinating (and equally scary) flightradar24 – to see every aircraft currently in the air in real time. Spoiler alert – it’s A LOT! So, with this amount of air traffic clogging up our skies, but not wanting to dampen our travelling dreams, we are on hand with some great tips on how you can reduce your carbon footprint – and why you must.
Why Should We Bother?
The debate continues to rage as to whether driving or flying is worse for the environment, and we’re not going to go into those mind-bending figures and statistics here. The fact of the matter is they are BOTH bad – and we need to be doing all we can to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere.
These gases are continuing to affect climate change, with rising temperatures dramatically damaging the world around us, including the melting of the ice caps and rising seas leading to the devastation of eco-systems. Not to mention the likelihood of coastal towns and cities being underwater. Wildlife becomes threatened as vegetation and food sources shift, and according to Nature Conservancy, one-quarter of all animals will become extinct within 40 years if we do nothing about it. And we’ve not even mentioned the impact on our own health – physically AND economically! So, what can we do about it?
Don’t Travel at All
GAH! BUT WE WANT TO TRAVEL! We hear you cry – and yes, all of us with that irrepressible travel bug will be reeling at such a suggestion. But the simplest and best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to not travel.
Or – walk! You would need to buy only one pair of good shoes every one to two thousand kilometers.
This also might be a difficult one, as getting to Australia isn’t easy if you’re not taking a flight for example. But seriously have a think about it – do you REALLY need to fly? If you’ve got time, you don’t need to cross water, and you’re not really going vast distances, why not consider trying another form of transport?
Wherever possible – look for alternatives. Watching the world go by from a train window is a gazillion times better than being in the air anyway.
Keep it Short and Direct
So, you have to fly – as we all do at some time or other. A little planning here and there will go a long way. Check your routes, and try to book shorter flights, with as few changes as possible. The less you’re taking off and landing, and the less you’re actually in the air – the better. Don’t just opt for the first ticket you’re presented with – take the time to do a bit of research and find the best possible route. You’ll feel better for it too.
Travel Long Term
Now being long-term travellers ourselves, this obviously appeals to us. It should really appeal to everybody – getting out on the road for an extended period, perhaps travelling for months and years at a time.
If you’re hoping about on short trips your footprint is obviously going to be much bigger. There are people out there who have been on the road for several years and only take a handful of flights. Anything is possible!
More specifically geared towards transport of the wheeled variety, it’s always a good idea to share. Get people together to fill up spare seats in public and private transport.
If friends or hostel guests are all going to the same place it makes much more sense anyway – and you’ll all save a bit of money in the process. Carpooling is an important weapon in the fight against carbon emissions.
Be Energy Efficient
It might only be minuscule in effect comparatively speaking – but every little helps. Pay attention to how much energy you’re using when you’re travelling. Try to limit the amount you wash your clothes – and yourselves for that matter!
We’re not saying travel stinky – it’s just you don’t really need showers that are over 6 minutes long. While you’re at it – reduce your use of plastics, drink tap water if it’s perfectly safe, say no to drinking straws and turn off lights if you’re not using them. It all adds up!
Offset Your Footprint
Air travel is part and parcel of our lives and a necessary evil if we want to go anywhere at all. Where it can’t be avoided, you can offset the damage you do by using an online tool. This is where you reduce carbon emissions through programs where you have the control to do so, offsetting those you spent where you don’t. In an ideal world and if everybody did this – we’d probably be pretty well balanced. We can but dream, can’t we?
Do Your Bit!
We are very aware that our beautiful planet can and will withstand everything we throw at it – and it will shake humankind off well before we do any lasting damage. It’s been around for billions of years, remember?! That being said, it’s still good to be conscientious and caring for the world around us – and to look after it for those that will inherit it. So, do your bit and be as green as possible when you travel – and keep mother nature happy.
How do you reduce your carbon footprint when you travel? Let us know your best tips!