Wanderlust – the environmental impact of travel

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I consider myself very environmentally conscious (a green nut amongst my suburban peers).  I try to consider my environmental impact in my decision making, and actively reduce my footprint through

  • Composting
  • Car Pooling
  • Solar Panels

My carbon footprint normally averages around 5 to 7 tonnes, faring much better than the average Australian who has a footprint of  15.5 tonnes of CO2 per year (ranking 3 in the world for emissions per person).  But this year my emissions were a whopping 37 tonnes

The issue is I have wanderlust. I love to travel. Ever since I finished school I have saved money to go on adventures, usually overseas.   Unfortunately no BYO cups and hanging up towels so they don’t get washed will compensate for that.

I’m keen to reduce my footprint – what can I do?

  • Sadly, the most obvious step is to travel less. Save up your carbon budget along with your financial budget, and take one big trip rather than several small ones.
  • Choose your airline on its fuel efficiency –  In 2017 the estimated gap between the most and least fuel-efficient transatlantic airlines was 63%. The International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT) provides rankings for trans-pacific and trans-atlantic carriers
  • Offset. It’s true that this does not stop the emissions you are creating, but it does give funding to projects that reduce emissions elsewhere in the economy and often have positive social outcomes for local communities. If you use the airline’s own offsetting program, check how they are investing your money. If there is no transparency or you are not happy with their options, choose another organisation like us that is carrying out work that you do believe in.
  • Consider your activities at your destination – do they help the local environment or destroy it?
  • Consider your waste. If you do not use disposables or take plastic bags at home, don’t do it while you are away. Remeber that many countries and rural areas have far less ability to deal with waste than we do.
  • Less stop and starting. Cars and aeroplanes are the same in this regard – they both consume more fuel during take off (and therefore produce more emissions) than at any other stage of the flight. On short flights, take-off accounts for as much as 25% of total fuel consumption.