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Going Green in the Travel Industry


With an ever increasing concern about the Ozone layer, the rapid consumption of a dwindling fossil fuel supply, and our planet’s future as a whole, let's try to look at all the different ways big time corporations and you as a consumer can help out. Lately a lot of attention has been on the commercial airline business and the huge amount of harmful emissions that airplanes emit on a daily basis. A commercial jet emits around 1lbs. of Co2 per passenger mile, with a cumulative total of about 250 Billion miles per year. If you were to talk about offsetting the amount of Co2 that’s let into the air, you would need to plant over 3 million acres of trees every year. With an average of 3600 trees per acre that means you would need to plant 10.8 Billion trees world wide; Americans average about 1.7 billion new trees per year. A good start but not even close to what we need. Now its not that airlines aren’t trying - some of the major players are taking big steps to help secure a better, healthier future for us all. While airlines do play a major part in the depletion, and hopefully in the renewing, of the Ozone layer, plenty of other factors contribute. Here we will discuss some of the things big business is doing to help clean up the skies and what you can do as a traveler, business person, organization, or whomever to help make your life a little more "green".

Greener Skies

trees Virgin Atlantic Airways – Our sister company has taken huge steps towards getting airlines and all forms of travel in line with a healthier future. Our chariman, Sir Richard Branson, has offered a 25 million dollar prize for a greenhouse gas removal solution, and has committed all profits from the transportation industry over the next 10 years to help discover or design a renewable energy source.

Nike partners with Delta. In a win-win deal Nike and Delta both donate money to an organization that helps off set Co2 emissions every time a Nike employee flies on Delta airlines. Both companies support various environmental groups outside this respective partnership.

Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines recycles all cabin waste and was the first airline to use electronic ticketing throughout their entire network. Recycling benefits are obvious and by using electronic tickets you cut down on both paper consumption and waste in one easy step.

Starting Grids. Virgin can also be credited for this great idea. A starting grid is an area where commercial airplanes are towed to before take off, as opposed to sitting in line idling for an hour as they do now. The benefits of this are huge and include things like less noise for surrounding residents, up to 50% less fuel consumption, and a huge decrease in the Co2 emitted from all airplanes.

Cleaner Travel Options

trees Rental car companies to offer Electric Cars. While not an accepted practice at all car rental agencies, electric cars have become more available as consumer awareness increases. Even companies who don’t currently keep electric cars in stock have come to supply a good amount of environmentally friendly vehicles.

Public Transportation. In the vast majority of the civilized world, public transportation is the preferred means of travel. Busses and trains travel to almost every conceivable place you could want to travel to, and everyone benefits from fewer vehicles on the road and less pollution in the air.

BWC vs. AAA. BWC (Better World Club) is an alternative road side assistance company that offers an eco-friendly alternative to AAA. The AAA is part of the Highway Lobby, and has been known to go against things like spending money on a cleaner mass transit system and bicycle paths. BWC offers the same assistance to travelers along with cleaner alternatives in all areas of the business.


Green Team

trees Climate Care. With an extremely large backing, Climate Care is the leading company that deals with outsourcing money to ‘Green’ projects on behalf of corporations. Many big name companies are on board with Climate Care and their home website is very informative.

New American Dream. An excellent organization that has ties to a large amount of "Green" companies and projects. NAD aims to help reduce pollution through various means, as well as cut back on our use of natural resources. Their website is extremely informative and offers many good ideas and views on travel, and general care of our environment.

Google goes Green. Everyone knows the Google name, and now they are giving you even more reasons to use their search engine. Partnering with The Earth Day Network, Google has added "green" search options that allow travelers to search for, view and book all parts of their trips, from hotel to car rental, using ‘Green’ businesses.

EcoTrans. A European organization that promotes sustainable tourism all across Europe. Any benefits in tourism are immediately felt by business travelers, as cleaner and better lodging practices, less noise, and fewer emissions are usually the first things to change and make for a more pleasant trip.

European Eco-label. A new standard across Europe that signifies a business is making the right choices in the products they make, or market, in terms of their effect on the environment. Many different types of companies are eligible to receive the Eco-label from hotels to shoe manufacturers.

NASA. In the recent decade NASA has been making great strides in the creation of solar powered air craft. Both the Pathfinder and the HELIOS have met with great success and have passed many of the initial milestones set forth at the beginning of testing. While this may not have any effect of travel in today’s market, this is a sure sign that solar powered crafts will continue to evolve and hopefully make the jump into commercial design one day.

How You Can Help

trees Ecotourism. This is the means of behaving in an environmental friendly way in all aspects during your trip, encouraging biodiversity in areas visited, and minimizing your overall impact on the area you travel to. To take into consideration everything that goes into planning even a small trip across a few states, following an Ecotourism guide line may seem difficult; however, the impact of doing just that is huge.

Eco-lodge vs. Eco lodge. Not to be confused with your local Econolodge, or the 10 story “Eco-lodge” in the middle of a forest, a true Eco lodge should meet at the very least some basic criteria. An Eco lodge should be small in total overall size,0 and not disturb the natural environment much, if at all. The most wasteful things associated with a normal hotel stay will be omitted from the lodge, and they should practice recycling.

Sustainable Tourism. The theory behind sustainable tourism in a nutshell is the practice of traveling to an area and promoting growth through local markets and employees, enjoying what the natural environment has to offer, and leaving the visited area no worse off then we you arrived, if not better. With tourism being the largest international business it’s easy to see why many companies are now promoting a sustainable tourist program.

Solar power vs. Firewood or Oil. In your home, business, or travel destination you could apply this standard to all. Anything solar powered gives off zero harmful emissions while wood or oil burning can potentially give off tons of detrimental chemicals. Even companies like Hummer who are not normally associated with terms like environmentally friendly have joined in, opting for a solar powered roof at certain dealerships.

Stocking organic goods. So as more travelers opt to stay at greener lodgings it’s only natural that said lodges would be using organic products. From the resort at your local beach to the Eco lodge in South America, small businesses offer everything from all organic food to totally organic constructed rooms and products. Even larger hotel chains that obviously can’t turn their entire operation ‘Green’ overnight have begun from the inside out, offering organic products to their guests.

Green business supplies. Any business large or small can make a difference by just changing some of the small things you use on a day to day basis. Specialty shops that offer all “Green” supplies are popping up all over and offer everything you could possibly want, all in a much more earth friendly fashion. From completely recycled products or totally recyclable ones, to a minor change in the items chemical content, these stores have it all.

Things to do at home before you travel. Not leaving everything up to big business, there are quite a few things you can do at home before you go on a trip to help the overall cause. From stopping your newspaper delivery for a week to unplugging appliances so they don’t leak out unneeded power, a little environmental planning can go a long way in this area.

Kodak. No trip would be complete without pictures to remember them by right? Kodak, one of the world’s most recognizable names in cameras offers two very good recycling programs. The first is for those one time use disposable cameras, and the other is for the film container. While this is a good practice, Kodak also discards of up to 400k rolls of film each year due to bad hand writing or no return address. As easy as using recyclable cameras and making sure you write neatly your trips can help the environment.

Solar powered travel accessories. No matter where you plan on going, you are going to need to pack some basic necessities. With the inclusion of many new solar powered items, you can bring almost anything you need without it being even the slightest detriment to the area you visit. Everything from solar powered radios, to cell phone charges can be purchased, and hold up as well or better then the older ones.

Everything Else

trees Improving your image by going Green. With media coverage the way it is today, people have many options in how they go about getting their news. So when the general public becomes highly interested in helping the environment they want to use products and support companies who fall in line with their views. Any company can benefit in today’s market by supporting a "Greener" way of life.

Prince Charles cancels ski trip. Although most people in positions of power talk about helping the environment, some actually practice what they preach. Seeing that no one is exempt from the scrutiny of environmental groups, the prince of England canceled his annual trip to help reduce Green-house gasses.

Green hotels can profit. A ‘Green’ hotel can help to save the environment and expect to make money at the same time. While there are different tiers of what qualifies as a "Green" hotel, even minor steps in that direction can turn a profit and make a substantial difference. As consumers favor an environmentally friendly business more often while making business plans, it seems to be a win-win situation for any establishment.