Eco-Conscious Flying – Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Here at Maiden Voyage, we recognise that air travel is not only a necessary aspect of business but something to be enjoyed. However, there is the undeniable fact that the aviation industry produces great levels of greenhouse gasses. According to research from the Air Transport Action Group, air transport generates over 724 million tonnes of CO2 each year. These emissions equate to roughly 2% of the 36 billion tonnes of CO2 generated by human activity per annum. Of this total, 65% is from international flights and 35% from domestic. For example, a London to Glasgow return flight generates an estimated 160kg of CO2 per traveller.

Simply, large emissions of greenhouse gases lead to higher concentrations in the atmosphere. To be exact, greenhouse gas concentrations are measured in parts per million, which is roughly equivalent to one drop of water diluted into about 13 gallons of liquid. However, it would take the average tree up to six years to absorb the 160kg of CO2 as listed above. In which time, CO2 would have mixed into the atmosphere and contributed to the thickening of the ozone layer.

Yet, flying is essential, and travel, enjoyable, and so we recommend the following tips and travel products to buy to help you be an eco-conscious traveller.

Be Selective When Choosing Airlines

A study of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the airline industry from 2007 to 2014 revealed that no major airlines showed a significant reduction in their greenhouse gas emission throughout these seven years. However, Finnair has the smallest carbon footprint out of the 20 largest international airlines. TAP Portugal has the second smallest carbon footprint, where American Airlines, US Airways and Delta are the globe’s biggest polluters. Of course, your choice of airline is limited to destination and budget, but when presented with a choice, consider the below tips to make your flight eco-friendly.

Check their Greenhouse Gas Policies

When researching an airline online, you can easily check their goals for cutting carbon, reducing their number of aircraft, or limiting their in-bound weight. Similarly, you can search whether the airline has a programme for reducing the toxicity of their operations, such as the use of biofuels over traditional varieties.

See whether the Airline Offers Carbon Offsetting

Some airlines bundle carbon offsetting programmes with their flights, meaning that conscious flyers can travel without the guilt of leaving a lasting impact on the environment. For instance, through carbon offset schemes, airlines will invest in environmental projects throughout the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. Carbon offset schemes may include investing in renewable technologies to reduce future emissions (often in developing countries), or by simply planting trees to soak up CO2.

Do They Reduce Municipal Waste?

A rather practical way to be eco-minded, airlines should be proactive in recycling all food service items, by using washable dishes rather than disposables, and recycling in-flight magazines. You can easily search an airline’s policies on this front and should not be afraid to leave feedback on social media should you be unhappy with their attitudes towards recycling.

flight-takeoffThis research will only add a small amount of time to your online booking experience and should give you an indication of whether one of the airlines is more eco-conscious than its competitors. However, you will always be in your right to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request should you be unhappy with the information that an airline has already made publicly available. You can also write to your prospective airline to express your concerns and put pressure on them as a prospective passenger.

Remember – a TMC can Reduce Carbon Footprint Too

Even if your business travel is arranged through a Travel Management Company (TMC), you will still be able to reduce your carbon footprint. Working on behalf of businesses, TMCs are potentially responsible for the travel habits of millions of travellers, and so are in the position to both send business to and put pressure on the airlines that they work with. Accordingly, TMCs are in the privileged position to influence corporate carbon footprint and will often be responsible for ecological initiatives of their own. For example, a TMC may also have relationships with carbon-offsetting companies or may simply prefer to send their clients to airlines who are vocal about improving their environmental impact. A TMC may also be active in getting business travellers to consider alternative travel methods, including lower-carbon options such as buses, trains and boats, particularly for domestic journeys.

Packing Sustainable Travel Products

You can also take personal accountability when it comes to the carbon footprint of business travel. Simply, a lot of the travel essentials that you pack into your suitcase will have lasting effects on the environment, due to the chemicals they are pumped with, plastics they are packaged in, or due to the energy used in their manufacturing. The good news is that these products can easily be replaced with sustainable alternatives. Here we recommend the best travel products and accessories for the responsible traveller.

Cosmetics from LUSH


LUSH is known as an ethical company, despite not using the term in its own marketing. This is because LUSH considers the measures it uses to ensure its sustainability and cruelty-free ethos the standard by which businesses should already be practising. However, we recognise the positive impact that LUSH has beyond the realm of animal rights and consider the cosmetics company as a forerunner when it comes to ethical practice. LUSH will use trains over planes for staff transport and is committed to reducing the air-freight of its products and ingredients by using green transport for its distributions. Moreover, LUSH has developed its own ‘Carbon Tax Scheme’, wherein the company ‘taxes’ itself at a rate of £50 per metric tonne of carbon emissions. Accordingly, the money raised is used to fund climate change and transport campaigns groups. Most LUSH products are vegan, and everything is packaged in completely recycled material – you can even bring back the container you originally purchased your product in for a discounted refill.

Check out LUSH’s beauty products here.

Paper-free reading with Kindle


Although there’s no comparison to the tactile experience of flicking through a physical copy of a book, the reality of frequent travel often makes them impractical, and the reality of their environmental impact, unethical. For instance, the publishing industry produces roughly 300,000 print books a year, which rather plainly, requires great levels of deforestation to achieve. Moreover, you will reduce the risk of exceeding your carry-on limit and in-turn will be reducing the overall weight that the aircraft is carrying.

You can buy your Kindle e-reader here.

Spare a Thought for Bamboo Tights


Undeniably on-trend, Thought bamboo tights achieve are sartorial Holy Grail in that they are stylish, comfortable and ethically produced. The luxurious fabric of the tights is made from a 75% bamboo, 17% organic cotton and 8% spandex blend, ensuring breathability, comfort and sustainability. If you’re new to the concept of bamboo as a wearable material, then you should note that not only is bamboo clothing free from harmful pesticides, but is often softer, stronger, and of course, grows at a very sustainable rate.

You can explore Thought’s range of bamboo clothing here.

Spotlight on EarthHero


An easy way to ensure you are using sustainable products is to shop through an online marketplace that vets the vendors it uses. We recommend EarthHero, a sales platform that researches and vets the companies so its customers don’t have to. In turn, shoppers can trust that they’re supporting companies who are serious about their responsibility to the planet. EarthHero works to provide travellers with sustainable options in each product category, identifying the materials, ingredients, and manufacturing processes with low environmental impact. Specifically, EarthHero has a 5-point product and brand sourcing methodology to ensure that its 85+ brands are truly sustainable in production, charitable give-back and packaging. You can, therefore, be confident that any EarthHero product meets the following criteria:

• Made with Renewable Materials
• Has a Cleaner Production Process
• Has a Smaller Carbon Footprint in its Distribution
• Is Made to a Higher Quality
• Is Recyclable or Compostable

To help get you on your way to becoming a fully-equipped sustainable traveller, EarthHero has provided the Maiden Voyage community with a 10% discount on purchases. Simply use the discount code MAIDENVOYAGE at checkout to receive 10% off of your order.

Check out the range of EarthHero travel products here!

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