Gargi's Tips to Offsetting Your Travel Footprint!


Travelling has been a big part of my childhood growing up, ever since I was a year old my parents made a point to travel to at least one country each year, so I’ve had my fair share of being on planes (despite my fear of heights).


After two long years of hiatus due to the pandemic, I was so happy to be able to fly out to visit my family in India. I couldn’t wait to travel the long distance to hug my most loved ones after almost 3 years of being apart. Having completed a master’s degree and now with a job in hand, I was beyond excited to show my family how far I’d come.


After almost a year working as a sustainability consultant, working on life cycle assessments, evaluating other’s sustainability strategies, I found myself woven into a position of responsibility. How do I, in my current position, make sustainably smart decisions from here onwards? Surely, the pandemic taught us a thing or two…


We all know that flying contributes to carbon emissions but did you know that they account for a whole 2.5% of global carbon dioxide production! I was about to travel a total of 28 hours, and couldn't bare the thought of solely contributing to this much impact on the environment.

Affiliated with my airline of choice, after just a couple of minutes searching on their website, I found their Carbon Offset Programme. In my line of work, I’ve come across carbon offsetting before – but truth be told I haven't yet been in the position of needing to purchase them myself. After further research into their offset programme and projects, I jumped onto their online calculator and found I was contributing 2,410kg CO2e = 2.41 tonnes CO2e for my whole trip.

Imagine this: one passenger on a 300-passenger capacity flight, that’s about (excuse my math)


1 person = 2.41 tCO2e

300 passengers = 2.41*300 = 723 tCO2e round trip


For those who aren’t familiar with the terms, that’s a LOT of emissions!


It was a no-brainer to make the decision to purchase their carbon offsets for my trip especially knowing that 100% of my contribution was going to projects that I actually care about. These projects included works around rainforest preservation in Indonesia, Solar Power and supply of cleaner cooking for villagers in Nepal. It’s also impressive how inexpensive it is to carbon offset your journey, I travelled a total 28 hours and only spent an additional AUD $31.33 to offset.


If like me (now that the world is open again) you decide to take that trip to Cairns to scuba dive in the great barrier reef or gondola your way through the waters of Venice, before booking, try to follow these 5 simple steps to reducing your travel footprint;


1. Do your research – Know the different types of carbon offsets, It’s easy to stray away from the real purpose of carbon offsetting, so research is key.

2. Find affiliated airline programmes – Your best guide to carbon offsetting is through your airline. They help you book your flight tickets with airlines that have carbon offsetting programmes.

3. Spread the word – Most people have no idea about carbon offsetting, so if you do it – talk about it.

4. Encourage Business initiatives – push the company you work for or the business you run to sign up to airline carbon offset programme.

5. Calculate your emissions – There are so many online calculators that help you gauge your impact in minutes, but that also check the emissions for different modes of transport. It’s always good to calculate how much energy you can save with other modes of transport (trains, buses) where possible. Be mindful and do your part where possible to ensure the future of the travel destinations we all love so much!



You can check your next holiday:

https://co2.myclimate.org/en/flight_calculators/new

https://www.virginaustralia.com/public/system/carbon/index.htm


Further reading:

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49349566

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/jul/19/carbon-calculator-how-taking-one-flight-emits-as-much-as-many-people-do-in-a-year


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"Women digging for bush potato" Artwork by Beverly Egan, Murchison River, WA. © 2022 by Perspektiv Australia Pty Ltd. 

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