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Sustainable Vacationing: 7 Tips for Greener Air Travel in 2023

The view from an airplane windowIn many ways, the pandemic completely closed down the global economy, impacting our lives both personally and professionally. Of course, travel was no exception. 

As things have reopened, however, many people are taking back to the skies, traveling by air to explore the world once again. In terms of the environment, this comes with a substantial downside—mass amounts of carbon emissions. 

Having the opportunity to travel—especially by air—is an incredible privilege and offers the chance for you to experience new places and cultures. But how can you do so in ways that won’t negatively impact the Earth as much?

In this article, we share the best ways for greener air travel in 2023. 

7 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in 2023

From cars to planes, emissions from our modern-day transportation vehicles are significantly contributing to climate change. Here are 7 ways to help reduce your carbon footprint when traveling by air.

1. Select Airlines that Prioritize Sustainability

Alaska airlines airplane flying in the skyAccording to Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders, commercial flying accounts for about 3% of global carbon emissions. This means that one of the first opportunities you have to make your next holiday more sustainable is when you select your airline.

Of course, all air travel will emit large quantities of carbon emissions. But there are certain carriers that are operating more sustainably than others. 

In the United States, the following three airlines are known for their greener operations.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has reduced the quantity of paper products used onboard by 50%. They no longer serve straws and are composting their coffee grounds, which has accumulated to 14 tons of composted grounds annually. 

They also have a reputation for being one of the most efficient airlines in the world, as well as funding many environmentally conscious projects.

American Airlines

American Airlines has partnered with Cool Effect in an effort to help their passengers offset emissions associated with their flights. The airline has also committed to reducing its carbon emissions by half over the next three decades. 

American Airlines currently powers its headquarters at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with 100% renewable energy.

Delta Airlines

A leader in the industry when it comes to environmentalism and sustainability, Delta has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 50% over the next 30 years. It has also stated that the company will put $1 billion towards lowering its fuel emissions over the next decade. 

The airline has removed most single-use materials from all of its flights, recycling those that they were unable to eliminate.

2. Avoid Connecting Flights

Someone standing in the airport looking at the departures boardOnce you’ve decided on an airline, the next step you’ll need to take is booking your actual flight. You can lower your carbon impact by considering direct flights over connecting ones. 

Not only is a trip without lay-overs more enjoyable for you and your family, it also produces approximately 220 pounds less carbon dioxide per person per flight than connecting routes. This is according to a 2019 study done by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). The study used civil aviation organization data to determine that direct travel tends to be less damaging to the environment. 

3. Choose Daytime Flights

An airplane flying in the skyThe next aspect of your itinerary to carefully consider is the time of your flight. 

The David Suzuki Foundation reports that planes that fly during the day don’t impact the environment as much as those that fly during the evening. Apparently, this is due to an effect called heat-trapping, which occurs in clouds at night. This in turn causes additional warming.

4. Reduce Emissions with Economy Seating

Economy seating in a planeAnother way to help lower your carbon footprint—and save on your budget— is to select economy seating. 

This may seem counterintuitive—you’re on the plane one way or another, so why should where you sit matter? But, since airplane emissions are calculated per passenger, the type of seat you select actually has quite an impact.

First-class or business-class seating offers passengers more space than economy. This means that these seats take up more space. By taking up more space within the plane, they add more weight to the aircraft. In fact, experts have reported that the carbon footprint of someone sitting up in first-class is around four times greater than some back in economy.

4. Buy Carbon Offsets

WindmillMany mainstream airlines are now offering passengers the ability to purchase carbon offsets when they buy their tickets, which is a credit that you can buy to represent the reduction of carbon emissions. 

The idea is that you are financially compensating for the carbon footprint of your flight. Depending on the partnership an airline has, credits are typically donated to green initiatives that are working to lower emissions and global warming.

While buying carbon offsets won’t reduce emissions from your aircraft, it is a great way to support sustainability projects that are working towards a greener future.

5. Avoid Checking Your Bags 

A man sitting at the terminal with his carry on luggageIt won’t always be possible—especially if you have kids!—but by packing light, you can help reduce fuel emissions. 

Checked bags are typically heavier than carry-on. So, by eliminating larger luggage from your packing equation, you can ensure that your bag is as light as possible. 

When your luggage doesn’t weigh as much, the plane is lighter. A lighter plane burns less fuel.

6. Visit Multiple Places on One Trip

It takes a lot to travel. From the many expenses to the time and energy it takes to plan a trip—and get there!—it’s worth making the most of your holiday. And by planning to visit multiple destinations in the area you’re visiting, you can also help make your trip a greener one. 

For example, if you’re flying all the way to Europe to see Paris, why not also plan to visit other prominent cities nearby. In doing so, you can make the most of the flight—and fuel—you took to get there.

7. Stay at Places That Support the Environment

Once you’ve booked all of your travel, there are still other ways that you can make your trip more sustainable, such as choosing green accommodations.

Look for hotels that have attained LEED Certification or that leverage things like green roof technology, locally sourced food, and water conservation programs. 

For an Even Greener Holiday, Try a Staycation

If you want your next holiday to be even more sustainable, you can always consider staying local. Staycations have become increasingly popular, especially since the pandemic, and offer you the opportunity to explore your own backyard. 

If you’re interested in living in a sustainable community that fuses the best of city living with the country lifestyle and all the amazing things that Sonoma County has to offer, we invited you to visit SOMO Village. To learn more, download our residential project brief or get in touch with us today.

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