Traveling can be a costly endeavor for our wallets and for the planet. When we travel, we contribute to harmful carbon emissions and we contribute a lot of waste that ends up in our landfills and oceans. Airplane waste is a huge problem. In 2018, the International Air Transport Association estimated that air travel generated 6.7 million tons of waste. Most of that waste came in the form of food and beverage waste, and the plastic packaging many of those items come in. Some airlines are starting to make changes to reduce waste on planes. Australia’s Qantas Airlines has committed to eliminate 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020. Qantas took one of their first steps earlier this year when they operated a “zero waste to landfill” flight from Sydney to Adelaide Australia.
We can help airlines like Qantas on their zero waste journey by reducing our own travel waste. We have four easy steps to help reduce waste during travel that can help you cut down on plastic and cut down on costs. We suggest making these four changes: go mobile, travel lightly, Bring Your Own Stuff (BYOS) and reduce your carbon footprint. Make your next journey a step on your low-waste journey.
The easiest way to reduce waste while you travel? Stop printing paper boarding passes. Paper boarding passes that are printed at home are a waste of paper. Downloading your boarding pass on your phone is an easy way to save paper and time. You don’t have to worry about losing your boarding pass because chances are your phone is definitely coming with you. Skipping the boarding pass line at the airport can save you a lot of time, and in some cases, it can even save you money! Some airlines charge you to print a paper ticket, so you can save time, money and waste by downloading your boarding pass to your smartphone or smartwatch before your flight.
If you can travel with a carry-on bag, you can save money, time and more single-use waste. Travelling with a carry-on bag is free with most airlines but there are more benefits. When you check a bag, you are signing yourself up to wait in baggage claim after your flight, which is not how anyone wants to spend their travel time. But each checked bag also requires a luggage tag. The adhesive on these tags makes them not recyclable, so they end up in our trash and eventually make their way to landfills. Planes carrying heavier cargo emit more CO2. Carbon emissions are determined by distance and weight, so you can do your part to keep emissions lower by traveling with lighter luggage. Travel with a carry-on bag to keep costs, waste and carbon emissions low.
Checked bag: $25.00-$50.00
You Save: You can save at least $25.00 by skipping the checked bag, and depending on the size and weight of your bag, you could save even more by traveling lightly.
Airplanes generate a lot of waste and most of that comes from food and beverages served during flight. Almost everything you can get on an airplane comes wrapped in plastic. The utensils, the food, the cups and even the blankets and pillows. You can help cut down on waste by bringing everything you need for flight from home! Bringing an empty water bottle through security is a great way to save money and reduce waste. You can also bring all of your plane snacks from home. Grab some reusable snack bags, glass jars or reusable food wraps and you are all set to have an in-flight feast. Just remember, no liquid or gel food items are allowed. Packing snacks in a mason jar has an added bonus, you can use it during the flight as a cup for your beverage, helping you skip yet another plastic item.
Other BYOS travel tips? Grab some utensils before you leave if you need them for your snacks and travel with your own travel blanket and pillow. You can reduce plastic by refusing the plastic wrapped items they offer you on the flight. You can also reduce your waste by choosing to read on an e-reader or your phone instead of grabbing a magazine that will be discarded later. All of our BYOS tips not only reduce waste, but they also save you money. Buying things at the airport can get expensive very quickly. Bring your own stuff to travel low waste and low budget.
Plastic water bottle: $5.00
Airport snacks: $5.00-$10.00
Travel Pillow: $20.00
You Save: Bringing your own travel supplies can save you $30-$50 in additional travel costs and it can help you stay low waste.
Reduce Your Footprint
Inevitably, you are going to contribute to carbon emissions while you travel. The U.S. is responsible for generating nearly 50% of the world’s CO2 emissions from aircrafts. Traveling can leave a large carbon footprint. Consider taking your savings from light travel and bringing your snacks and donating to offset your carbon footprint. There are a lot of interesting organizations doing great work to help with climate change, like COOL Effect and Sustainable Travel International. You can specifically donate to offset your carbon footprint. A quick Google search can point you to more impactful organizations so you can do even more for the environment.
These tips can help you be eco, on-the-go, so give them a try!