Striving for a carbon neutral lifestyle needs to be something we all prioritise. Living a more sustainable lifestyle can feel like an uphill struggle at times. Say, you love to see the world but don’t want to damage the planet, is it really possible to enjoy carbon neutral travel? There’s a lot of jargon, buzzwords and strap-lines bandied around. What does it mean to be carbon neutral? How do I know what my carbon footprint is? What are emissions and greenhouse gases? – all this terminology can get pretty confusing indeed. Let’s unpack a few of these questions and take a look at how and if you can really practise carbon neutral travel…
What Does It Even Mean To Be Carbon Neutral?
Having a carbon neutral lifestyle involves producing little or no carbon emissions and having little to no impact on the planet. Although living a totally carbon neutral lifestyle is a tough thing to achieve, you can reduce your emissions and choose to “offset” the emissions that you produce.
What Is My Carbon Footprint Anyway?
Your carbon footprint by definition is “the amount of emissions caused by a person, organisation, event or product.” Your personal carbon footprint is impacted by the daily lifestyle choices that you make, for example, you choose to walk instead of driving or watch TV over reading a book. When your daily lifestyle choices include using electricity or fossil fuels, they are producing carbon emissions otherwise known as “greenhouse gases” which are released into the environment.
Calculate Your Carbon Emissions
There are various websites where you can figure out what your personal carbon footprint is. A great place to start is the WWF website. WWF do amazing charity work across the world and have created a super useful carbon calculator. Simply fill out the short questionnaire and it will calculate your carbon footprint and suggest easy changes you can make to reduce your emissions.
What The Heck Is Carbon Offsetting?
In brief, carbon offsetting is making a positive action to offset the amount of carbon emissions your lifestyle creates. You can payback your emissions through an offsetting scheme, for example by investing in an environmental project or having trees planted on your behalf.
What Can I Do To Offset My Carbon Footprint?
Okay, so now you understand carbon offsetting- where do you begin? To be blunt, it’s better not to create the carbon emissions in the first place. Simple changes can make a real difference in reducing your emissions, like switching to energy saving lightbulbs or insulating your home. Start by thinking about where you can cut down on your carbon emissions through lots of relatively easy lifestyle changes. Once you’ve done what you can to reduce your carbon footprint, you can offset the remainder by signing up to an organisation like Ecologi, who will plant enough trees to offset your personal carbon emissions or that of your business.
Is Carbon Neutral Travel Even Possible?
Sadly, for those of us who love to travel, flying is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Staggeringly, over 17 billion gallons of fuel was consumed by the aviation industry in 2018, in the U.S alone. On the up side, airlines are starting to wake up to the demands of consumers and the serious issue of climate change, major airlines like Emirates, Qantas and Delta are now offering carbon offsetting. JetBlue Airways recent declared that its US domestic flights will be carbon neutral in 2020. Several of the airlines will pay the offsetting costs on your behalf, while others allow you to offset at point of purchase.
If your chosen airline doesn’t yet offer carbon offsetting, you can book your ticket through a search engine like Flygrn. They receive a fee from the airline every time someone books through them and then use the money to partially or completely offset your flight’s CO2 emissions. Companies such as Trip Zero help you to book and hotel room and calculate the emissions of your trip.
Take The Train
It’s claimed that travelling London to Paris by Eurostar instead of flying can reduce your carbon emissions by 90% – which is pretty incredible! Of course, reducing carbon isn’t the only advantage of train travel over flying- as anyone who loves good old fashioned train travel will tell you, it is way more relaxing, you get more space and can enjoy the scenery too. To figure out your train journey, The Man in Seat Sixty-One is a brilliant resource for mapping out your route.
It would be a fallacy to pretend that flying thousands of miles can be classed as carbon neutral, so reducing the number of flights that you take is best practise and for those unavoidable flights, sign up for carbon offsetting through a reputable organisation like Ecologi. Although offsetting is not a solution, at least you are reducing your impact on the environment.
When possible, pack your bags and take the train!