Reducing Your Carbon Footprint When You Travel

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Elsie esq.

Awareness of what effect our travel habits have on the environment has increased considerably in recent years, and now most people will understand what’s meant by terms such as carbon footprint and carbon offsetting. There is no getting away from the fact that a plane produces emissions, but there are steps that travellers can take to help negate the impact.

Carbon and flights

Holiday charter flights, business flights, luggage shipping even medical repatriation flights –they all have an impact on the environment. When fossil fuels are burned, by-products known as carbon emissions are produced. These gases, such as CO2, are already present in the atmosphere but as more fuel is burned, their concentration increases. CO2 is believed to be a major factor in global warming, which is why efforts are being made around the globe to limit the amount being released into the earth’s atmosphere.

Average footprint

Research has revealed that the carbon footprint of the average household is about 10 tons per year and much of this comes from transport use. For example, a return flight between London Heathrow and JFK airport in New York will result in 1.16 tons of carbon dioxide being produced per person.

Concerted efforts

It’s not just environmentally-minded travellers that are thinking about the impact that flying has on the atmosphere. Governments around the world are making concerted efforts to cut carbon emissions and reduce pollution. The UK for example has signed up to the Climate Change Act and as a result is committed to cutting all its climate-changing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, based on 1990 levels.

Carbon offsetting

It is possible to limit the impact that taking a flight has on the environment by joining a carbon offsetting scheme. They work by the traveller paying a certain amount of money depending on how much CO2 they expect to produce. This cash is then used to pay for projects elsewhere in the world that will result in CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. An example of a scheme could be a factory in India switching from the use of fossil fuels to solar power, or perhaps the construction of a wind farm instead of a new coal-fired power station. Such schemes have proved to be especially popular with businesses that have a strong social conscience and realise they need to play an active role in helping to combat climate change.

Advances in aviation technology

Cutting back on flights and offsetting the release of carbon dioxide is not the only answer. Tackling the heart of the issue and coming up with more sustainable methods of travel is also key. Boeing for example has come up with a design for a hybrid plane that runs not only on aviation fuel but also on electricity. The result is an aircraft that produces considerably lower emissions when it is in flight. It is these kinds of advances in technology that are set to play a key role in the fight against global warming over the coming years.

Tips for making sure that your footprint is as green as possible

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Lauri Vain

As you’ve probably noticed, environmental issues have steadily crept further and further up the political and social agenda over the last quarter of a century or so. This is in large part because of climate change, which has generally come to be regarded as one of the most pressing issues currently facing humanity. Although it’s important to remember that the vast majority of carbon emissions are produced by large industrial concerns rather than households, that’s not to say that there aren’t steps we can take to reduce our impact on the planet. It’s important that we all pull together and do our bit – because if we don’t, the consequences don’t bear thinking about.

One of the most commonly-used environmental buzzwords of recent years is “carbon footprint”. This particular phrase refers to the amount of greenhouse gases each individual, household, business or other organisation is responsible for emitting – so when people talk about reducing their carbon footprint, they’re talking about emitting lower amounts of greenhouse gases. There are a number of steps that each of us can take to reduce our carbon emissions, and it’s worth carrying out a thorough assessment of what pollutants you’re responsible for releasing into the atmosphere as part of your everyday routine. When you have an idea of what your individual carbon footprint is, you’re better placed to work out how you can reduce it.

As an article from eHow.com points out, you can reduce your carbon footprint making relatively small-scale adjustments to your lifestyle. Perhaps the first thing you should consider is whether or not it could be a good idea to buy a more environmentally-friendly car. Many of us have been driving the same old gas guzzlers for years, spewing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In recent years, a number of more eco-friendly models have come on to the market – such as those produced by Dacia and other manufacturers – and so it’s well worth looking at what these vehicles have to offer. Many eco-friendly cars also happen to be cheaper to run, as they’re more fuel-efficient. At a time when so many of us are facing financial uncertainty, this could turn out to be a wise investment.

You can also reduce your carbon footprint – and save money – by thinking more carefully about when you actually need to use your car. If you can walk instead of driving, then why not do so? Not only does this save on unnecessary fuel consumption, but it’s also good for you as it helps you get some useful exercise. It’s easy for motorists to get used to driving anywhere and everywhere, but there will be times when you simply don’t need to drive.

There are also a number of other things you can do to cut back on your personal carbon emissions. It’s worth keeping a close eye on when you use electrical appliances, for instance. An article from Yahoo suggests that instead of leaving them on standby, you should make sure they’re properly turned off. Likewise, don’t leave lights switched on when you don’t need. Insulating your home can also help you reduce the size of your carbon footprint.