Lessening your environmental impact while travelling
Fri, 9 January 2015

5 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact While Flying

Flying produces a lot of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If you are going to travel there’s not that much that you can do about it. The bottom line is flying pollutes, a lot, and we have to just accept it as a byproduct of convenient travel. But did you know that in addition to fuel emissions, there is a lot of waste being made inside the airplane too?

The cups, paper towels, packaged snacks… the list goes on. With the average person producing around 4.3 pounds (2 kg) of waste per day, flying isn’t exactly helping to lessen our environmental footprint. So if we travel, does that mean we are unwittingly being wasteful and unsustainable? No. The good news is that there are simple steps that you can take to reduce your environmental impact while flying so you can travel eco-consciously.

Step 1: Opt for a PDF of your plane ticket instead of printing oneSave time and trees.

Step 2: Bring your own cup to fill up instead of taking a plastic cup On a plane the flight attendant usually pours it into a plastic cup and puts a paper napkin underneath and then throws it all out after the flight. There’s a really simple solution to eliminate a large portion of that waste: bring your own stainless steel water bottle with the drink that you want.

Step 3: Pack your own foodAirlines are becoming more and more stingy about the food they serve during a flight. Besides the fact that airplane food consists usually of processed junk, it also comes with a lot of packaging that winds up in landfill. To avoid this waste say NO to airline snacks by bringing your own food.

Step 4: Bring a sweater, scarf, and neck pillow instead of taking a plastic wrapped blanket or pillowBlankets and pillows that are provided by the airline are wrapped in thin disposable plastic that goes straight to landfill once they are opened. A simple way to not create this waste is to fly equipped with a neck pillow, sweater, jacket, and/or scarf to keep you warm and comfortable on chillier flights.

Step 5: Bring your own headphones instead of taking plastic wrapped headphonesA no-brainer.

These five simple steps will really help to lessen your environmental impact while traveling. Trying even one of them makes a difference. Remember, you don’t have to make lots of trash and not doing so is as easy and powerful as politely refusing a paper napkin and plastic cup – that’s progress.

Words by Lauren Singer, founder of trashisfortossers.com, where she documents her Zero Waste Lifestyle, which is “cost-effective, timely, and entirely possible for everyone and anyone.”

View Comments


  • Soibhain Flynn5 hours ago

    I think flying in general has an environmental impact so when possible I travel by train. The last time I brought my headphones they wouldn’t fit into the socket outlet on the plane. Dont have kleen kanteen here but have a nice punc bottle instead http://puncbottles.com/product/500ml-pinc-stainless-steel-insulated-bottle/ but usually have to empty it for checkin. Siobhain

    • Maria Alafouzou3 hours ago

      Thanks for the tip, Soibhain!

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