Flying sucks for the environment. Fact. But if you can't imagine the holidays without listening to Michael Bublé with your parents on repeat or getting toasted with your childhood friends, you're not alone.
One hundred million Americans will be traveling home for the holidays and with each flight blasting off 53 pounds of carbon per mile, we're covering the earth with a whole lot more than holiday cheer.
Here are 5 super simple ways you can fly more sustainably this holiday season
1. Book non-stop flights.
Like you needed another reason to book non-stop. Flights use the most carbon for take off and landing mean direct flights produce less emissions than connecting flights going the same overall distance. So spend that extra $100 on a non-stop flight, the earth (and your future-self when you're not stuck in ATL because you missed your connection) will thank you.
2. Opt for E-Tickets Instead of Paper.
This one seems too easy but if even just half of the people flying this holiday used an e-Ticket (bonus points if you do the same for rental car or hotel reservations) we would cut back on 5 million printed paper tickets. That is a whole lot of trees and paper processing.
3. Pack Light
Checked bag fees blow and heavy planes blow through fuel. For every extra pound a plane carries, it needs to use more fuel. According to Max Wenneker of GSCleanEnergy.com, if American Airlines alone "removed one pound from each of its planes it would save 190,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So, next time you fly, ask yourself if you really need that one extra shirt. You can make more of a difference than you think."
Check out this video on how to pack Carry On Only and save money and the planet by packing light.
4. BYO Bottle & Blanket
Airlines go through hundreds of plastic beverage cups Every. Single. Flight. Don't add to the mess and instead bring your own travel water bottle and fill it up before you board. Soda and booze is bad for you (especially considering flights already do a number on your immune system) and if you must drink coffee (I. Must. Drink. Coffee.) knock it back black to avoid using the plastic-packaged condiments. Speaking of immune systems, bring your own small travel blanket or towel to wrap up in. Airline blankets are bagged in plastic which is obviously not good but even more importantly, they are not washed frequently and that's just gross.
5. Offset Your Flight
Most airlines now offer a carbon offset program where you can pay to offset your flight by donating to a conservation organization they partner with for as little as $5 to $10 per flight. Some examples are Delta working with the Nature Conservancy and Jetblue working with CarbonFund - you calculate how much carbon your flight footprint is and your donated dollars go to planting trees, protecting forests or other environmental initiatives. It's not a silver bullet and far from perfect (some people say that by customers paying to offset our carbon instead of the companies that are creating the problem it puts the financial burden on us, where it doesn't belong) but until we have greener technology or environmental regulations put in place, these small donations add up to make a big difference and at this point, it's one of the best things we can do to be green ...
Unless you're okay forgoing the flight and Skyping with your family for the holidays.
Yeah. We thought not (who else is going to sing along with your mom to Mr. Bublé?)
Happy Holiday Travels!