whether it is locally or much further away. While we may not be able to avoid traveling entirely, it is important to consider the carbon footprint of our travels and to seek ways to reduce it as much as possible. The following are five ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your travels. As you read this list, can you think of more ways to reduce your carbon footprint even further?
- Use mass transit instead of driving your car.
Public transit options, such as buses and trains, reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the total number of vehicles on the road. Today, some public bus systems are using hybrid electric vehicles, further reducing their total carbon emissions, and there are now even solar powered buses in some places around the world, such as the Tindo electric bus in Adelaide, Australia. Also consider the most ecologically-friendly transportation options. For example, a train is a less carbon-intensive way to travel than a plane¹.
By hitching a ride with a friend, neighbor, or relative to get to your destination, you are reducing the number of vehicles required, and this ultimately reduces the carbon footprint of your travel.
- Consider whether your trip is actually necessary.
Understandably, travel is often unavoidable. However, in some cases, travel may not be necessary, and there are simple, low or no carbon options available thanks to modern technology.
- Many employers are now allowing their employees to telecommute from home at least a couple of days a week, eliminating a carbon-intensive commute.
- For business trips, could a video conference or webinar training series serve the same purpose as face-to-face meetings or destination coursework and classroom trainings?
- If your destination is nearby, can you walk or bike there instead of driving your car?
- Can you combine trips to reduce the number of separate trips that must be taken?
- Turn things down and off while you are away.
Why waste energy and produce more carbon emissions than necessary when you aren’t even home? If you are planning to be away from home for an extended period of time, turn down your thermostat. Also, be sure to unplug things, turn them off, and eliminate sources of phantom power used by your appliances and other electronics that might waste energy while you are away.
- If you are just going to be away from home during the day at work, you can still set your home’s thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save energy (and the associated carbon emissions that are produced) through the heating and cooling of your home.
- Programmable thermostats are available that can allow you to set a schedule that adjusts your home’s temperature throughout the day based on when you will be home or asleep overnight.
- Explore the purchase of carbon offsets for your trip.
A number of airlines and travel websites are now offering the option to purchase carbon offsets to compensate for the equivalent of carbon emissions that will be generated during your trip. This can be a good option when air travel is unavoidable²
The funding raised through the purchase of carbon offsets generally go to support various projects that help to reduce overall greenhouse gases in the environment, such as the clean energy projects, the planting of trees, and landfill gas capture³.