Travel Responsibly: Ways to REDUCE your Carbon Footprint

TL;DR Reduce your carbon footprint by taking fewer flights, swapping to more carbon-friendly transport options, switching up your driving, choosing renewable energy, making your home warmer, changing your diet, plant trees and by responsible making reproduction choices.

The dirty aspect of travel is the harm to the environment caused by taking carbon polluting flights. Carbon contributes to global warming, which is causing changes to the world’s climate and negatively affecting the planet’s flora and fauna, as well as hitting the poorest people hardest. Ironically, sea level rises could reduce the number of island getaways, huge storms can completely destroy holiday destinations and water shortages can potentially turn cities into war zones. As fervent travellers, we need to be responsible so that our travel destinations are not ruined by our frequent flying!

So, when you are contemplating your next big adventure, also take some time to reduce your carbon footprint with these tips:

Two bright red trains in a station

Stop Flying

Yep – unfortunately for all those bitten by the travel bug taking fewer flights or no flights at all is an obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint. However, all is not lost. You can cut down the number of flights you take per year and replace them with more sustainable transport options such as trains, buses or ferries, which also give you a chance to really find out what a country looks like – bonus!

When you are visiting a destination consider cycling, walking or taking public transport instead of taking a taxi – as long as it is safe to do so.

Don’t take a cruise though – they are incredibly bad for the environment, your health and the ports of call, so avoid them at all costs.

If you must fly then always choose economy and check which carrier is the most efficient by using Atmosfair’s handy tool. Then you can use the airline’s carbon offsetting option or ClimateCare’s calculator to work out the carbon you have emitted by flying.

For example, a return flight from London Heathrow to Istanbul, Turkey emits 0.84 tonnes of carbon over 3171 miles but only costs £6.32 to offset. ClimateCare has a number of carbon-reducing projects you can support, making it easy to implement the offset.

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An electric car plugged in, charging.

Switch Up Your Driving

If you travel for work purposes investigate how you can reduce the amount of carbon you are producing by swapping some face-to-face meetings for conference calls and web-based meetings. Also, take the train – it’s great for working whilst travelling as well as reducing carbon outputs.

Does your employer offer carpool schemes or cycle to work initiatives? If not why not? Also working from home can reduce carbon emissions and increase productivity. Ask your employer to provide these options.

When driving for personal reasons could you walk or cycle instead of taking the car? It’s not only good for the environment but also for your health and the cash you save can go towards offsetting the carbon emitted from your travel.

Take all the unnecessary weight out of your car, get it regularly maintained, and don’t speed -the most efficient speed is around 55-60 mph. If you are caught in traffic switch the engine off and don’t leave it idling at any time.

Think about combining trips such as the gym with supermarket errands so that one journey achieves the same as multiple ones. Look at using public transport, pooling school runs and other ways to reduce the amount you drive.

Consider changing your vehicle for an electric or hybrid version, especially if most of your journeys are local. The mileage on each charge is pretty impressive now so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Beef cattle

Change Your Diet

Producing meat products uses a lot of carbon – especially when you consider that trees are often felled to provide grazing areas, the animals emit a lot of carbon and the carbon used to transport the product to the end destination – your plate. It’s advised that eating less meat, particularly red meat is a great way to reduce carbon emissions on a day to day basis. The same applies to dairy.

That doesn’t stop vegetables from being the bad guys too! You need to make sure that you eat locally grown vegetables or use less carbon-emitting transport options such as shipping. Those asparagus tips flown in from Peru do not help the carbon crisis,  check the origin of your foods.

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Solar panels

Inside Your Home

Install renewable energy generating equipment to your property to cut both your utility bills and your carbon footprint. You can research if there are local schemes from your local government or equipment suppliers to help you pay for solar panels, small wind turbines or biogas options. You can also then sell any excess electricity back to the grid and grow your travel funds.

If you can’t convert your own power then choose a provider that generates energy from renewable sources.

Remove all the drafts and gaps that are letting the heat (or cold air from air conditioners) escape from your home. Often just a bit of sealant is needed. You could be entitled to help with insulating your home – check with your local authority for further advice on that. Install double or triple glazing throughout, close the curtains in the evening and use aluminium foil behind the radiators to reflect the heat back into the room.

Once the house is totes cosy then you can turn the heating down. This will reduce your carbon emissions and save you money. Keep the doors closed and turn off the heating in rooms that are not used. If you are cold, put on a really thick jumper, use a blanket or do some exercise.

Set a timer to turn the heating off when you are not at home.

Choose energy saving appliances. Dry your laundry using an outdoor washing line or an indoor clothes airers rather than tumble drying.

Swap all the lightbulbs to energy saving bulbs or LEDS and turn off the lights when not in the room.

Unplug anything that is not in use and switch off everything that is on standby, as energy is still being used.

Think about using less water. Take a shower rather than a bath and boil only the amount that you need to use for your hot drinks etc.

Also consider the carbon used to produce all the items you normally use and consume, from furniture to soaps to clothes. Try buying and using less generally, recycle and upcycle items and dispose of anything that can’t be reused responsibly.

forest-trees-ecology-environment-60062Plant Some Trees!

Even if it’s just a couple in your back garden then planting some trees is a great way to offset the carbon released into the atmosphere from flights. If you don’t have any garden then search for local community schemes, such as the UK’s Woodland Trust, that can use some assistance in creating new woodlands, either physically or monetarily. It’s also a nice lasting legacy to think you have created a whole ecosystem as a result. Go grab a spade.

Life Decisions

Quite a lot of people get offended but another way to reduce the carbon you emit through travel is to not produce children. Having one less child far outweighs taking less flights and all the other options detailed in this post. The sheer number of resources that it takes to raise one human, especially in Western consumer focused societies mean that if you choose to remain childless you are saving so much carbon that a few flights here and there are hugely offset. Controversial, but sometimes the truth stings.

Stacks of chimneys emitting steam or smoke

Help Others by Passing the Message On

The more people who are offsetting their carbon by using these tips the better. So the next time someone mentions travel just send them the link to this post!


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If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

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