Travel and the Environment – The Myths Busted

Travel and the Environment

Traveling the world is now cheaper and more accessible than ever before. The low cost of international travel has created a generation of people that enjoy routine shopping holidays abroad, and who think nothing of hopping on a plane for a weekend break; but at what cost?

What’s Your Travel Carbon Footprint?

The increase in air travel has sparked a mini-industry of companies that promote carbon offsetting and other financial ways to appease your conscience about the impact your journey has on the environment. “Are you planning an Argentinean gap year?” they ask, “The flight will produce 5,983lbs of CO2! Do you want to pay to offset it?”

Carbon offsetting is a nice initiative, but it doesn’t miraculously make your flight not produce waste. All it does is support an environmental project such as a wind farm or a solar initiative, which will effectively “neutralise” the carbon emissions you have produced. You aren’t benefiting the environment; you’re just making the net effect of your trip zero.

If you care about the environment, then the best thing to do is reduce your carbon footprint in general. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your Argentinean gap year, but while you’re at home why not recycle more, walk instead of driving to the shops, and turn your heating down a notch to reduce the energy you use to heat your home.

It’s not just flying that produces emissions. If you drive long distances, that can have a negative impact on the environment too. So, if you’re planning an Australian gap year where you’ll take road trips to every major city, try to find a car that’s as fuel efficient as possible.

There’s no need to go to extremes such as running your car on vegetable oil. While it’s technically possible to run a diesel car on vegetable oil, it would probably damage your engine if you tried it. For now, stick to recognized hybrids, or just efficient and well maintained engines. Try not to load your car up with too much unnecessary baggage, and make sure that you service it regularly.

Tax Doesn’t Help
When you booked your Australian gap year, you probably noticed that airport tax and passenger duty made up a significant portion of your air fare. If you consoled yourself with the thought that those taxes would go towards eco-friendly travel initiatives, then I’ve got bad news for you. Air passenger duty revenues are not reserved for any specific project – your money goes into a general pool, and could be spent on anything.

Think Twice Before You Travel
There’s no need to cut out all travel. Educational trips, once-in-a-lifetime holidays and genuine “experiences” are something that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy. However, if you’re flying because it’s cheap, or because you want to pick up some cheap duty free, then maybe you should think about the impact your quick hop across the pond will have on the environment.

If you’re a business traveller that clocks up a lot of air miles, are your trips really necessary? Can you reduce the frequency of your flights, or cut some journeys out altogether? Not only will you save the planet by doing so, you’ll save money too.