How to travel sustainably
Corporate travel is often criticized for its heavy carbon footprint. Frequent long-haul flights, hotel stays and ground transport cannot help but take their toll, but there are ways to reduce your environmental impact.
August 29, 2019
Consider your flight
Skyscanner highlights eco-friendly flights with a green leaf symbol, taking into consideration fuel consumption based on the type of aircraft, its seating capacity and whether the flight has a stopover. As a rule of thumb, fly economy class nonstop on an airline with a newer fleet.
Stay in budget accommodation
If you can, stay in a newly built hotel that has smaller rooms (more efficient) and that uses fewer disposable amenities (toiletry dispensers in the shower rather than travel-size bottles). Also, if given the option, change towels and sheets every other day, or keep for the duration of a short stay to save water and energy to wash.
Use public transport
Once you’ve reached your destination, rent an electric vehicle or use bicycles and public transport to get around the city.
Limit plastic use
Carrying a reusable water bottle saves money and is environmentally friendly. Hotels often have water fountains, while many international airports have free water dispensers. When offered a plastic bottle of water, refuse it. And that means saying “no,” not throwing it in the bin.
Buy eco-friendly sun cream
Many sun creams contain oxybenzone, a chemical that causes harm to coral reefs by increasing their susceptibility to bleaching. NGO Marine Life has found that oceans are currently filled with approximately 82,000 chemicals. Hotel and spa group Six Senses is launching a resort-wide ban on selling these sun creams from September. It will instead promote 100 percent reef-safe alternatives, packaged in plant-based or fully compostable packaging.
Respect animal welfare
Steer clear of tours that involve up-close encounters with animals, whether that be touching, riding or hugging the wild creatures.
Eat local produce
Farm-to-fork dining is a twofold gain, supporting the local economy and limiting carbon emissions from transporting the food long distances. Many hotels now use locally sourced kitchen ingredients, or even grow their own produce on site.
Act as you would at home
Limit indulgent behavior – take shorter showers, don’t use the robes and slippers if your stay is brief, turn off the lights and turn off or raise the temperature of the air conditioning when you leave the room.
Ask for digital receipts from hotels rather than amassing a lot of paper. If the property doesn’t offer this, encourage them to do so.
Do your research and speak up
Business travelers can drive change in the industry. Now Transforming Travel, a global community raising the bar on transparency and accountability, can steer you in the right direction. The website lists 45 eco-friendly hotels, many of which are certified by Earthcheck, and lists tough questions that guests should ask hotels before booking. A carbon calculator and offset program was launched in June, allowing people to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing equivalent carbon credits from one of three sustainable projects.