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Reducing your carbon footprint while traveling for business in 2023

What a carbon footprint is, and how it is related to traveling

Roughly speaking, a carbon footprint/greenhouse gas footprint refers to a specific amount of gaseous emissions contributing to climate change and are related to human activities in terms of production or consumption. 

These activities include transportation (cars, planes, boats), using electricity, consumption of goods, agriculture, waste management, etc. Regarding traveling and sustainability, transport accounts for around ⅕ of global carbon dioxide emissions, which raises questions on how to reduce those emissions.  Unfortunately, moving from one place to another leaves a large carbon imprint. Between 2005 and 2016, emissions related to transportation rose by more than 60%. 

Why is reducing carbon footprint important?

In order to preserve the environment and minimize the consumption of natural resources, it is necessary to reduce CO2 emissions. It slows down the pace of global warming, improves air quality, and saves energy and money (utility bills and costs of fuel, for example).

How to practice sustainable traveling

Sustainable travel is tightly linked to sustainable tourism. This means that people should travel in a way that helps our environment and, at the same time, benefits the economy. In short, the purpose of sustainable tourism is protecting the environment while meeting travelers' needs.

Sustainable travel emphasizes a mindful approach to traveling, where travelers make decisions that reduce their environmental impact, such as reducing their carbon footprint, waste, etc. Sustainable traveling also promotes social, economic, and cultural development and aims to reduce environmental pollution caused by the tourism industry.

Travelspot supports traveling sustainably and can offer you a few examples of how your business travelers can do it too. 

When it comes to traveling by plane, you can check the following:

- The seats - why does it matter if you select the plane with many seats on the flight? Because more travelers in the aircraft results in fewer flights, which gets us to the point - fewer resources are wasted. 

- Economy class - although it doesn’t “feel” as good as traveling in the first or business class, there is a great environmental advantage to flying economy. First-class and business-class seats create a larger carbon footprint because the seats in these classes take up much more space - which means fewer travelers can take that flight. Also, since services in such luxurious classes are much "richer" with food and beverages, there is the issue of the greater weight factor. The heavier the luggage is, the greater the carbon dioxide emissions get. 

- “Green ticket” - if your travel manager books this type of ticket, they choose a flight that emits less CO2 than others (around 20% less than the average). So how does that happen? For example, modern aircraft have advanced technology that emits less CO2. Modern planes are more fuel efficient because they are run by SAF (sustainable aviation fuels, instead of fossil ones. Also, some airlines decrease their carbon footprint by reducing drag during flights or even optimizing flight routes. 

- Direct flights - choose a travel method with fewer emissions by choosing more direct flights.

- Packing lightly - the more luggage your employees bring, the more fuel it takes for transportation. That’s why you should tell them to choose only the essentials!

- Calculate your business travel emissions - when you determine your trip's carbon emissions, you will see the possibilities for initiatives that reduce your own environmental imprint.

Eco-friendly accommodation

Here, we will take a look at sustainable accommodation and lodging options. To find sustainable, “green” hotels or any kind of housing for your employee’s travels, you should pay attention to these things:

1. Hotels with green certification - when you google search for hotels, select the ones that have an “eco-certified” label. After you check the details about the hotel, you will see their sustainability practices. 

2. Water conservation - some hotels have refillable water stations to avoid the usage of plastic bottles, therefore preserving the environment. Look for accommodation where they use recycled water, for example, when doing laundry. Check hotels that use water-efficient landscaping practices (such as rainwater harvesting systems, for example) and those that offer linen and towel reuse programs so the laundry is not done so frequently - and the water is conserved.

3. Sustainable menu - there are hotels offering organic and local food and ingredients, even vegetables and fruits from their own courtyards. Global food waste is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, those hotels use stainless steel cutlery and paper straws for beverages. Also, they prefer practicing the usage of paper boxes instead plastic for takeaway food. 

4. Energy-efficient lighting - naturally, here we are talking about LED bulb installation. They have a longer life span and emit far less carbon dioxide. Also, some hotels even use occupancy sensors that automatically turn off lights when the room is no longer occupied. Ideally, look for accommodation that maximizes the use of natural lighting. 

5. Eco-friendly toiletries - one polluting practice is using plastic and disposable toiletries. Choose hotels that use refillable toiletries, which reduce packaging waste and help preserve the environment. Some of the interesting practices that such hotels use are offering bamboo toothbrushes, biodegradable soap, organic cotton pads and etc. 

6. Social responsibility - you can also find hotels that practice providing wages or benefits to their employees and promote and educate sustainable behavior. Search for hotels that actively engage with the local community and promote diversity and inclusion.

What can a responsible business traveler do to maintain sustainability? 

Even though you will notice some of the “stating the obvious” claims, it isn’t a bad idea to give yourself a reminder to: 

- Update your travel policy to a sustainable-friendly one - once you incorporate the advice given above, you will join the sustainability-friendly businesses that support eco-responsible behavior. To be aware of nature and the environment means that your company is aware of the world we live in and how important it is to preserve it and live in harmony with the planet we inhabit. For example, practice booking air travel tickets for flights that create the lowest emitting of carbon dioxide and book hotels that are eco-certified. 

- Educate your employees - transfer your awareness to your employees and remind them to act responsibly when they travel. For example, tell them to bring reusable water bottles and pack their own coffee mugs and shopping bags to avoid buying plastic ones, so they can help reduce unnecessary waste. Also, when they accommodate, you can remind them to turn off the lights and unplug their devices when they leave the hotel room.

- Implement sustainable restaurants in your travel budget - support local restaurants that create a lower carbon footprint and avoid food waste. The restaurants in question use seasonal and plant-based foods, local ingredients, or even grow their own fruits and vegetables. If the option of inserting it into your budget plan isn’t possible, educate your employees to visit such restaurants, eat sustainably, and reduce their carbon impact. 

Remember, for all the questions and advice on the best possible options for transport and accommodation, our travel manager is here to help you find what you need and take care of your stay.

The future of sustainable business travel

More and more businesses are developing awareness about the necessity of reducing their carbon footprint, so they implement versatile practices to avoid wasting resources while traveling for business. 

Some popular company practices include using electric vehicles while traveling, investing in carbon offsetting programs, educating employees, adopting new technologies and programs supporting the same vision, etc. 

So, what can we expect from the future?

If these practices of carbon footprint reduction continue to be implemented and waste creation is diminished, we can expect many improvements in technologies that manage sustainable traveling, which includes innovations in both transport and accommodation during business trips. These advances in technologies will most likely support a culture of environmental accountability that aims to create a more balanced relationship between the planet and human kind.

What do you think? 

If you want to have the best possible traveling experience or need help organizing your business trip -  feel free to contact us. 

We want to hear from you!