Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eco-Friendly Flights: Carbon Offsetting

Photo courtesy of Felipe Barrientos on Flikr.com.

For those of us enjoy traveling and for those of us who travel for work, flying seems to be an inevitable part of the trip.  Flying is one of the most effective means of travel, getting us across the US and anywhere in between, in about 6 hours or less.  It has made the dream of world travel accessible.  Flying can also be exciting...the beginning of a long awaited and planned vacation to some far off, exotic place where relaxation and bliss await.  Let's face it, flying has enabled us to see the world a lot faster than our ancestors, who toughed it out at sea.  But with all the perks that come with flying, i.e., status, upgrades, mileage...there is also a cost.  An environmental cost that many of us overlook or may not even realize...CO2 emissions, and a lot of them!

TerraPass.com, calculates that a typical non-stop one way flight from LAX to JFK on American Airlines emits 1,616 lbs of CO2 per person.  (To see how this is calculated, click here.)  If you calculate that times the 244 seats on a typical 767 plane, that comes out to 394,304 lbs CO2 being released on one flight, one way!  Think about how many flights take off each day at each airport around the country and world.  That is some serious carbon emission, polluting our air.

What can we do about counteracting those emissions that pollute the air?


What does THAT even mean?  Well, according to Wikipedia, a carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon or green house gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere.  So basically, you can counter balance your carbon emissions through the purchase of a carbon credit or offset from specialized intermediary company (see below) who generates offsets by various means, such as planting trees or investing in renewable energy.

So how do you go about offsetting you carbon?
1.  Look for airlines that offer for you to offset your carbon as you purchase your ticket.  Continental Airlines and Qantas are two that I have found that offer that service.
2.  If they don't allow you to do it right away, check to see what programs each airline is involved in and learn how to donate that way.  Click here to find out more about Delta, American Airlines, and United's carbon neutral programs.
3.  If you need to calculate your carbon footprint for a flight, vehicle, or household, and contribute to one of the many environmental programs they fund like restoration, reforestation, or renewable energy, you can use sites like TerraPass.com or CarbonFund.org.
4.  Going on an eco-vacation?  Choose countries that are more "green" like Costa Rica, and check out Nature Air, the world's first certified carbon neutral airline.

If you are headed on a vacation or typical work travel day, why not try to make it as eco friendly as possible?  The non-stop flight we just calculated from LAX-JFK, would cost a small $11.90 to offset the carbon.  Think about how many trees you can plant or how your investment would help fund renewable energy projects.  Pretty cool!

The world is at our fingertips, thanks to flying.  Let's help reduce carbon emissions and green house gases by offsetting the pollutants we use to allow us to see the beauty of the world.  One small price to pay for experiences we have forever.  Be an eco friendly traveler and leave behind less footprints than what it took for you to get there.

Love this planet.  We've only got one.

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