How to Be Kind to the Environment While Travelling

sustainable travel

Australians have an insatiable appetite for travel, and it’s no surprise why. Travel opens our minds, shakes up our routines in the best ways possible and allows us a first-hand insight into the ways others live it’s perhaps one of the single greatest joys in life. But there’s a catch. And it’s a hard one to ignore. 

Aeroplane engines are run on fossil fuels which we know produce emissions like carbon dioxide, the key culprit in climate change. Air travel has a greater climate impact per passenger than other forms of transport and accounts for 2% of all global emissions. In 2018, flights contributed 895 million tons of carbon, so yeah, some things need to change.  

And so we, as ecologically conscious ‘xennials’ wonder: Should we just drop all future air travel plans and seek out more sustainable options? Or can we still see the world in a way that weighs lighter on our shoulders?

According to Elissa Kasch from Melbourne-based carbon offset provider, Greenfleet, we don’t have to give up travelling altogether. “It’s important for our wellbeing that we all take time out from our busy lives to relax and have a holiday.” However, Elissa does recommend offsetting your carbon emissions as the single easiest way to reduce your footprint when it comes to air travel. 

carbon offset
Flying economy from Sydney to London return produces the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as running the average air conditioner in one room during the day for 7,133 hours.

What it means to offset carbon emissions

According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, the aim of carbon offsetting is to become carbon neutral or restore one’s emissions to zero by investing in offset programs. This may involve planting new trees, forest conservancy, or investing in sustainable energy sources like solar and hydro energy. 

“To become carbon neutral, entities must calculate their emissions, reduce these emissions as much as possible, and then purchase and cancel carbon offsets or carbon credits equivalent to the remaining emissions,” the Government body’s site reads. 

How to offset your carbon emissions

You can make donations at any time to offset your personal carbon emissions through companies like Greenfleet and Atmosfair, but perhaps the single easiest thing you can do is tick the box at the checkout to offset your carbon emissions when you book a flight. 

Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar all offer the option to offset emissions in the booking process. And when you purchase those carbon credits, the airlines will donate the entirety of your offset fund to Fly Carbon Neutral, which invests in global projects that restore or conserve forests, develop renewable energy sources, or increase energy efficiency.

Depending on the distance and the length of the flight you’re booking, you could be tacking on anywhere from a dollar or two or around $25 and up to $148 for a long-haul flight to Europe. It’s a small price to pay to contribute to programs that work to balance out the devastating effects of the aviation industry on the environment.