Reduce Your Carbon Footprint While Flying

If you fly often for work or personal reasons, it probably has dawned on you that those huge airliners are releasing a lot of carbon dioxide & pollutants into the air. This doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't fly. There are smart ways to fly that will reduce the size of your carbon footprint.

From Slate.com, here are highlights of Brendan Koerner's answer to a reader regarding this exact issue.

  1. Better Planes: Look for airlines with the most technologically advanced planes (the new planes). Newer planes incorporate better fuel efficiency tools like pressuring the cabin with an electric motor rather than using the engines.
  2. Better Planning: Look for airlines with better on-time records. Flight delays are the result of a plane circling above the airport, burning fuel the whole time. Check airline timeliness HERE.
  3. Fly Non-Stop: When planes have to stop and take-off repeatedly, they burn a lot of petroleum. The planes will sit on the tarmac, sit at the terminal, burning fuel the whole time.
  4. Buy A Carbon Offset: As your last resort, you can always offset your seat's share of carbon by purchasing a carbon offset. Delta offers the ability for passengers to donate money to the Conservation Fund's "Go Zero" Campaign. The cost is $5.50 for domestic flights and $11.00 for international flights. Go HERE for more information.
Brendan's article goes on to explain that all of this is only a drop in the bucket in terms of reducing the carbon released by airplanes. Other pollutants like Nitrogen Oxide are also released by planes. And now older, less efficient planes are finding new lives in growing nations like India and China.

Some airlines like Virgin Atlantic are incorporating more efficient practices into their operations like coasting where possible, using less engine power on the tarmac, etc. Its our responsibility to call the airline we plan on flying and to ask them why they aren't doing the same. Until more changes can take place, maybe you should consider a video conference from home instead of flying to meet an associate in person.

The rest of the article can be found HERE


  1. African/Hispanic/Asian/Native AmericanOctober 6, 2007 at 4:14 PM

    Carbon offsets are a scam! I am amazed at what people will do to try to feel good about themselves. Carbon offsets allow people like Al Gore to continue to fly in their private jets and lecture me on how I should reduce my carbon footprint. What a joke. It is a shame that so many people have bought into the idea of offsets. Stop and think about what you are doing, there are ways to make a difference, but do not listen to people that live in mansions on how we should reduce our footprint while theirs is 4 to 20 times what the average American produces.

  2. This is an interesting comment. I plan on posting more information about carbon offsets. I'm not convinced though that they are as bad as you say.

    I certainly do not live in a mansion and I've never even been on a private jet in my life. I didn't learn about carbon offsets from Al Gore either.

    From what I understand, carbon offsets are a way for individuals to donate money to renewable energy development, tree planting, and expansion of clean energy plants. Its not a one-to-one perfect fix for reducing a carbon footprint. I look at it as a clever way to contribute to new technologies that will eventually lead to less carbon emissions overall.

    Just because celebrities or rich people tell me to do something, doesn't automatically disqualify that thing or make it bad. Celebrities tell me to read to my children while many raise bratty ignorant kids. I'm not going to just stop reading a story to my child.

    Anyways, I'm going to look into this further. From what I've read around the Internet, there is a movement to undermine carbon offsets for some reason. Until I'm convinced they are truly bad and the nay-sayers aren't paid PR mouthpieces for industries, I'll support offsets.