High Flying

Even air travel can be ‘greener’


Making Ripples

The general thought is that air travel isn’t a green activity, and there’s not much of a way to make a difference for people or planet with a plane. But if you must fly, or if you simply choose to fly for convenience, there are ways to make the trip greener — or at least avoid causing more harm than necessary.

For example, I heard it was always more expensive to fly out of Northwest Arkansas regional airport (XNA). So I jumped directly into searching for flights leaving Tulsa. Checking my assumption, I searched flights leaving XNA and discovered that tickets cost the same whether I was flying from Tulsa or NWA. Flying from XNA saves gas in the car and emissions from driving, and it also reduces my impact as a plane passenger by creating a more direct flight path without detours. Whenever possible, fly directly to your destination instead of going in opposite directions. Planes burn the most fuel during takeoff, so avoid layovers. You’ll also save precious time!

You might be able to afford carbon offsets for your flight. For about 2,000 pounds of emissions, my offset cost less than $10. Check whether your airline offers the option of adding an offset. Alternatively, buy offsets through a third-party company like Terrapass.com. First you may need to calculate your flight’s carbon footprint with one of several online calculators. Then purchase the appropriate amount of offsets from Terrapass.

We can always make a difference, even within a decision that appears to be irredeemable. It’s not just the big life choices to watch out for; it’s the little ones, too. These days, passengers can’t take a full reusable water bottle through security, so does that mean we should buy disposable water bottles? No! The trick is to bring an empty bottle and fill it once you’re past security.

When flying, consider more than just the environment. For example, if you bring your own food, avoid eating peanut butter or peanut foods. People with extreme peanut allergies can sometimes have a reaction to being that close to peanuts. Some airlines have even stopped offering free peanuts. Peanut butter counts as a liquid in the security checkpoint for carry-ons, so it will be confiscated anyway if it’s in a container larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml). Imagine how much happier that allergic kid next to you will be!

If you encounter someone with autism or a disability, be a friendly support and if needed or requested, make sure they reach their gate or seat safely. It may be annoying when you’re in a hurry to catch a plane, but you can make the world so much better by actively valuing everyone regardless of mental or physical ability. There are many small ways to bring a sustainable lifestyle and compassion into the airport, so don’t stop trying just because the choice to fly creates emissions.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.

Categories: Making Ripples