Traveling Versus Staying Home
In summers past, Adam and I would always take at least one trip away via plane. The summer after West was born we journeyed back to to Belcastel. Last year we met up with our family in Idaho. This year, however, Adam and I agreed to ease up on air travel, as we’re monitoring our collective carbon footprint as both a family and a business. Flying less often is such a simple way to significantly cut back our negative impact on the planet, as a single cross-country flight here in the US represents about 1/18th of a person’s annual carbon emissions.* Plus, we live in a tourist destination— we might as well stay home and enjoy it!
Then, unexpectedly, a friend of mine called and invited me to join her in Hawaii for an August mini-break. For a few personal reasons, I decided to go. As a result, I began exploring the ways in which I can lessen my impact both from and during the trip. (goop recently published an article entitled How to Travel Responsibly in an Era of Climate Change, and it’s definitely worth reading.)
We opted to fly Alaska Air, which has been ranked by the International Council on Clean Transportation as the most fuel efficient carrier in the United States for 7 years in a row. They burn 12-13% less fuel (and emit 12-13% less CO2) than the average US carrier, and are investing in alternative, sustainable aviation fuel. Additionally, Alaska Airlines has the most comprehensive inflight recycling programs of any U.S. airline. (They even compost their coffee grounds from inflight travel.)
Earlier this month, The Guardian published an article about offsetting carbon emissions, and how to navigate the options. After reading it, I purchased a carbon offset for 5500 miles (slightly more than the equivalent of the round trip journey) by contributing to Alaska’s verified nonprofit partner, Carbonfund.org Foundation.
Additional actions help, such as flying coach, packing light, bringing a reusable coffee/water bottle to fill after security, shutting the window shades when instructed by flight attendants, and flying direct whenever possible.
A trip such as this is — to quote Katrina Fischer Kuh — “a privilege paired with responsibility—responsibility to cognize the full human and environmental impacts of climate change, responsibility to shrink your own environmental footprint, and responsibility to push for better environmental policies.”
*Source: The New York Times