Look in any airport and you’ll find a world that doesn’t seem to care about pollution. Huge airliners cough and splutter fumes, baggage cars emit like a power plant, and the tarmac placed on runways scythes the countryside of its natural charm with nary a shrug of the shoulder. It doesn’t make you feel particularly good about flying – especially with the current global mess. Do you really want to feel like you’re adding to that smoke and smog by booking a flight? Well, although planes are still hotbeds of pollution, there are ways to reduce the emissions you’re using before and during a flight.
As environmentally-conscious travelers, we are always trying to do things as green as we can. This includes finding green flights. As what usually happens when we mention anything related to airplanes, we get some criticism. “Aren’t you green?” “Don’t you care about the environment?” “Flying is terrible.” Yes, we agree that planes are the worst mode of transportation when it comes to their environmental impact. In fact we’ve written a lot about this including articles about airplane cabin air, Principles for Choosing Green Transportation, and a Guide to Carbon Offsets. So, this begs the question, are there green flights?
photo credit: Lara604
Technically, green flights don’t exist
Sadly, there aren’t. At least not right now. Perhaps in the future there will be green flights. It would be great to be able to fly all over the world without having a major impact on the environment. Right now though, there’s no such thing as green flights. However, there are lots of things you can do to minimize your impact to make it a greener flight than it would have been otherwise.
How to fly green as possible and feel good about it!
Tips to make your flights more eco friendly:
Take a Nonstop Flight: When you take a nonstop flight you’re using less fuel and thus there are fewer carbon offsets – this all leads to greener flights. (Check out our posts about the best search engines for nonstop flights and our post about how non stop flights have up to 50% less carbon offsets.)
Use Electronic Tickets: When you use a completely electronic ticket — for example, on your PDA/Smart phone, you’re getting rid of all paper waste. Another bonus: you won’t have to worry about losing your ticket.
Search for Tickets by Searching for Green Travel: So many travel companies now offer a Green Travel section on their website. Click there first to optimize your green travel experience. Search Green Travel when researching green flights, lodging, transportation, dining, and more.
Bring a Water Bottle: Don’t buy bottled water before boarding the plane. To have green flights we must stop drinking bottled water. While on the plane, politely refuse the drink which will be served in a plastic cup and most likely, not recycled. Bring your own water bottle, an empty one, to the airport. Once you are through security, fill it up at a water fountain, and enjoy it before and during your flight. Looking for a new one? Check out our smackdown of stainless steel water bottles to help you choose the best one.
Get a Greeting: Imagine how much you’re polluting in your hunt for a parking spot. You’ll traipse up and down and around and around car lots just to find a place near your terminal, and you’ll have wasted gallons of fuel in the process. But is there an alternative? Indeed there is – try meet and greet car parking, and you’ll be able to park right at the entrance of your terminal. From there, your vehicle will be taken to a secure location for the duration of your trip. You’ll have minimized your carbon footprint – and save time as well.
Fly Green – Don’t Compute: You might think you need a world of entertainment at your fingertips for your flight. But the truth is, most of your devices are wasting more energy than you realize. For short haul flights, why not bring a book (preferably made from recycled paper or from the library…thus saving the best kind of ‘green’… money!) or simply have a power nap? You’ll awaken at your destination guilt-free, as your lack of laptop use will largely offset the plane’s emissions.
Pick the Right Flight: The government regularly recommends using buses instead of your car. The fewer cars are on the road, the safer the environment. The same logic can be applied to planes. When you’re trying to book a flight, make sure the majority of its seats are filled. After all, a full plane is being used to its optimal capacity. In addition to this, make sure you don’t book a flight requiring stopovers or layovers. The more planes you have to use, the more pollution you’re seeping into the environment.
Check Your Airport’s Record: You might not realize it, but eco-airports do exist. Dotted around the globe are airports using solar panels, energy saving measures and other progressive tricks to offset pollution. If you’re really serious about saving the planet, track down the greenest airports you can before you book your trip.
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What is your secret to finding green flights? How do you make your trips more environmentally-friendly?