If you’re flying, you’re adding a significant amount of planet-warming gases to the atmosphere — there’s no way around it. Take one round-trip flight between New York and California, and you’ve generated about 20% of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year.
However, if avoiding flying is not always possible, there are some ways to make your airplane travel a little bit greener.
Consider other options
Do you fly or drive? There are useful Web-based carbon calculators that can help you make most run-of-the-mill consumer decisions like ICAO.
- Taking the train
Taking the train can also be a fun and eco-friendly alternative if you are not planning on leaving the US. Amtrak offers rail passes (USA Rail Pass; California Rail Pass) for a great way to see the all the destinations America has to offer.
Flying nonstop can help, too: The more times you take off, the more fuel you use
Longer flights are more efficient overall, as cruising requires less fuel.
If you fly, offset it
When you buy carbon offsets, you pay to take planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in exchange for the greenhouse gases you put in. For example, you can put money toward replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
You can buy offsets through some airlines — Delta, United and JetBlue, among others. But they don’t necessarily make it easy during the booking process; some airlines offer offsets only on separate sustainability pages. You can also buy offsets through other organizations.
Check the fuel efficiency of the airlines you fly
Last year, United Airlines started biofuels in all of its flights out of Los Angeles. The biofuel is estimated to cut at least 60% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to regular jet fuel.
According to a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation, Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines were the most efficient domestic carriers in 2014. American Airlines and Delta are at the bottom of the list …