Rachel Bronish, 7 February, 2020
There is little doubt that aviation is an important part of modern society. There is nothing else in existence capable of facilitating the high-speed transportation of people and high-value goods over long distances. And with the exponential growth in civil aviation, there has also been heightened awareness of its environmental impacts and the need to mitigate these effects.
You would think that this would be an off-limits topic for anyone working for an airport or airline, but you’d be wrong. After all, the opportunity it presents is incredibly exciting and the potential to make improvements in an ecological and biological sense (and an economic and social sense too) is huge.
Sustainability is more important than ever before. It has become a key factor that most businesses and organisations strive to achieve, and for anyone wishing to be a responsible corporate citizen, it is something we should all be striving to achieve as well - in all facets of our lives including business travel.
So how exactly do we do this? How do we travel sustainably when we live in a country as large and isolated as Australia? Do we ditch everything that contributes to carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere? Realistically, this is not possible.
With a landmass in excess of 7,600,000 square kilometres, it would be unreasonable to ditch motor vehicles and aircraft, especially when it comes to travelling for work. After all, business travel is an essential tool for running a business and is said to account for around 90,000 business travellers flying internationally every 30 days.
What we should be doing is focusing our attention on travelling as sustainably as possible. It is easier than you might think as the below tips will show you, and the real beauty of travelling sustainably is that the more people who do it, the greater our environment will benefit.
Before you book
Ask yourself, are you familiar with your company’s travel policies and compliance levels? Is sustainability penetrated within its corporate travel program?
Have a discussion with your travel manager or procurement department to enquire into your travel management company’s ability to bring a greater level of sustainability to your corporate travel program.
Also, ensure your company is utilising digital expense and invoicing solutions to reduce paper waste wherever possible.
It is worthwhile doing your homework before you book your flights and accommodation.
When selecting your flight, look to an airline that has the most modern fleet and always try to take the most direct route possible. Technology has come a long way, with modern aircraft using far less fuel than their predecessors. Flying non-stop cuts down on half of a single flight’s emissions since you’re avoiding extra landings, take-offs and taxi times.
If you are flying domestically, choose to fly Economy. A World Bank study showed that a Business Class seat has a footprint three times that of those of us up the back - and First Class can be nine times as carbon-intensive!
It is also worth considering carbon offsetting. Most airlines offer the ability to purchase offsets at the time of booking, but there are also independent agencies like Carbon Neutral that you can partner with to provide carbon offsets. Purchase verified carbon offsets from the airline or through an accredited agency. Offsets that avoid emissions through energy efficiency or replace fossil fuels with renewables are the most effective, with forestry projects ranked last.
When it comes to where you stay, choose accommodation providers that are actively limiting their emissions and be a green guest. There are loads of resources and lists available online that will point you in the right direction.
The goal should always be to travel as light as possible. Apart from the obvious ease of getting around, less weight on an aircraft equals less fuel consumption and fewer emissions.
Another easy strategy is to use eco-friendly ground transport on either side of your flight. Brisbane Airport has a fleet of 11 electric buses for the landside transport operations within the airport precinct. With zero tailpipe emissions, the fleet has resulted in the reduction of 250 tonnes of carbon emission each year, equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road.
Another sustainable ground transport alternative is the Air Train which will drop you straight to the terminal without the hassle of finding a park.
Throughout your entire journey, be conscious of waste. Wherever possible, BYO and don’t think that you are being rude by saying no to newspapers, headphones, and heavily packaged snacks while on the plane.
When you get to your destination consider every decision you make, from reusing towels, and switching off your appliances, to using recycle bins and foregoing turndown service. Wherever possible, be sure to support and source from local business and suppliers.