The Carbon Neutral Travel Guide

written by Daniel Nikulin March 12, 2020

The world is experiencing a unique opportunity to pause and consider how we can make smarter, more responsible, and more sustainable choices about our travel. 

When the time comes to travel again, will you be ready to go green? Will you know how to book vacations, family reunions, and adventures that leave a positive impact on our planet? Can you be confident that your carbon footprint is small… or even better, neutral?

At Flight Centre, we believe that travel makes the world a better place. Carbon-neutral travel is possible – here’s how to do it. 

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint measures the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, consumption and disposal of a product or service. It includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases which trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming. 

Generally speaking, transportation (both local and abroad), housing and food contribute to the bulk of an individual’s carbon footprint. 

What is carbon offsetting?

Think of it as a balancing act. Take that flight but offset the pollution it’s creating by investing in renewable energy, reforestation, and other good-for-the-planet initiatives. 

Essentially, a carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere and occurs in both the compliance market (governments and companies) as well as the voluntary market (individuals). 

Based on a 2017 research study by the University of British Columbia and Lund University, taking one roundtrip transatlantic flight almost equates to driving a car for a year in the amount of greenhouses gasses emitted. Through companies that facilitate carbon offsetting, travellers can reduce their carbon footprint by funding environmentally friendly projects. 

Here is how it looks using our carbon footprint calculator.

Using a return flight in economy class between Toronto and London, England, as an example, you would need to offset 1.84 tonnes of CO2e to travel carbon neutral at a cost of between $36.80 and $55.20 depending on the project portfolio you decide to support. 

What makes a legitimate carbon offsetting program?

A high-quality offsetting program ensures that emissions reductions are real, permanent, and socially and ecologically beneficial. The end-game should be a shift to a low carbon economy for a cleaner planet through energy efficiency and renewable energy options.

As part of our Green Policy, Flight Centre is proud to offer a Carbon Emission Offsetting Program through our partnership with Offsetters. 

Our partnership with Offsetters

Offsetters is one of North America’s largest and most experienced full-service carbon management companies providing superior quality offset projects that are verified by qualified third parties.

Offsetting your flight with Offsetters contributes to over 40 active cleantech and energy projects ranging from ground-source heat pumps for community buildings to landfill gas capture. Due to policy and funding constraints, many of these and other projects would not go forward without offset funding, making your contribution important and measurable.

Tips for reducing your carbon footprint

Offsetting the carbon you emit is just one way to minimize your impact on the environment, but being a responsible global citizen is about reducing pollution through less consumption, too, along with these 5 basic tips for reducing your carbon footprint, whether you travel or not.

Conserve Water

Take short showers, reuse towels and turn off that tap! Much of the world suffers from a shortage of clean water so limit your use whenever possible.

Reduce Your Waste

Plastic is passé. Carry your own reusable bag, always recycle and dispose of your waste responsibly.

Go Local

Forego the chain restaurants and the big box stores and enjoy locally owned and operated shops and restaurants. Support local farmers and use local guides when booking tours.

Care About Wildlife

As a rule, any activity that an animal would not do in the wild is the result of exploitation. Avoid any attractions that involve ‘performance’, riding or closely engaging with wild animals.

Respect People & Culture

Ensure your interactions with communities you are visiting are respectful and that you dress and behave in an appropriate manner. Learn about another way of life, be polite and keep an open mind.

Carbon neutral travel is a hot topic and rightfully so. As countries impose caps and tax carbon to reduce emissions, mindful travellers, too, can minimize their own carbon footprint and help contribute to green solutions. 

Offsetting your carbon emissions has never been easier. Check out our carbon footprint calculator, book that flight and read more about our Corporate Social Responsibility here.