Tips on how to be carbon neutral when you fly
By Waheeda Harris, Kalev.com
It’s a challenge to live life in neutral, especially carbon neutral. For those who want to lessen their footprint on planet Earth, adopting a lifestyle that reduces greenhouse gas emissions is key — as Carbonfund.org says, reduce what you can, offset what you can’t. Scientists agree there’s a need for humans to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent by mid-century or face a global catastrophe. How to balance the need to preserve our environment with our desires to explore the planet?
For those of us who travel regularly, we’re feeling the guilt of living a lifestyle that incorporates the emissions of air flight and vehicles. On average, an individual creates 50,000 pounds of carbon emissions per year, as a result of home, car, air travel and daily life. To lessen the guilt, individuals can calculate emissions based on activity, such as a direct flight or the use of a car, and offset with monetary payments. But what it comes down to is choice — decisions on whether an object, service or travel is necessary and when it is, how to make sure the footprint is gentle.
Nature Air became the world’s first carbon-neutral airline in 2004, by compensating for its emissions from flight operations. Nature Air works with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy to insure its efforts to lessen the effects of greenhouse gases created by its flights, thus protecting the forest and jungle that draws tourists from around the world to Central American destinations in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.
Monetary funds from Nature Air benefit the preservation of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, chosen byNational Geographic as one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. But this company doesn’t stop there: Nature Air has improved its fuel efficiency in the past three years by seven percent, thanks to its fleet of De-Havilland Twin Otter planes and its use of biodiesel.
It’s also maintained a Sustainability Committee to coordinate in-house environmentally-friendly policies such as recycling and energy efficiency, reforestation in communities served by the airline, and has active membership in the Rainforest Alliance, Climate Neutral Network and the ecotourism society CANAECO.
Reduce your carbon footprint — and keep flying
For a country that is well-known as one of the forerunners of eco-tourism, it’s no surprise that Nature Air is located in Costa Rica.
Harbour Air Seaplanes and Westcoast Air is the first North American-based carbon-neutral airline, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s the only airline whose fleet is composed of seaplanes, and located within a province that has pride in its eco-reputation; Harbour Air employees approached management with the idea to become eco-friendly.
Since 2007, Harbour Air has worked with Offsetters, a British Columbia-based offset provider, to provide funds for a variety of projects such as increasing energy efficiency for the British Columbia greenhouse industry as well as helping the municipality of Nanaimo reduce its methane gas emissions from its landfill.
To date, the company has offset 37,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and the company has been named one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed companies – and made the list of Canada’s Top 100 employers.
And like Nature Air, Harbour Air takes it another step, with a focus on offsetting corporate emissions such as its daily operations. Boarding passes are reuseable, and its fleet creates less greenhouse gas emissions per person in comparison to other forms of transport (i.e., helijet, ferry, plane) to the same destinations. Harbour Air provides flight access for travelers to eight destinations between the Greater Vancouver Area and the islands off British Columbia’s coast.
For travelers, there’s increasing options to keep exploring the planet, leaving a place only with good memories and a few souvenirs.
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