Travel Alternatives and Carbon Offsetting

Liv Nono

Student

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What is Carbon Offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is an approach to reducing the ecological impact of human activities. In short, it is the purchasing of carbon credit, to fund projects that reduce carbon emissions such as reforestation and methane capture in order to balance the emissions you made elsewhere. 

How much does it cost & how do I do it?

It’s a common misconception that carbon offsetting is expensive and is an unwanted fee on top of your expensive flights, but it’s actually cheaper than you think. You can expect to contribute £5-12 to offset a tonne of CO2. To give you an idea of what this looks like, a flight from London to Madrid and back releases 0.5 tonnes of CO2 and would cost approximately £2.50 to offset.

Firstly, we recommend calculating the CO2 emissions from your flight by using the calculator here. This will tell you the cost as well as giving you the option to choose a project you’d like to support in order to offset your CO2. I personally think this is a better way to do it as it means you can choose the project you want to fund whereas going directly through the airline just involves ticking a box, meaning you don’t actually know where your money is going.

It’s worth saying here, as I know many people will be thinking, what if the reforestation I fund gets chopped down in a year’s time, or a farmer sells the land and they start building on it? After doing some research myself, I’d say methane capture is the best method as once it’s burned it’s used to produce electricity, heat buildings, or power garbage trucks. In other words, once it’s burned, it’s done, and you know your money has contributed to something positive.

What if flying is the only option?

If you see flight travel as the only legitimate option, there are a few things you can do. 

  1. Take direct flights. Takeoffs and landings are the times which planes emit the most emissions, therefore limiting the changes and stop-overs is key to reducing your carbon footprint. 

  2. Carbon offset your flights. Your carbon emissions can be used to make a positive environmental impact elsewhere. 

International Travel Alternatives

Trains: Travel by train is a hugely popular and magical way to travel, and is available throughout the world. Whether it’s interrailing across Europe, the bullet train through Japan or the Patagonian Express, trains are often a cheaper, more scenic and definitely more sustainable option. Save yourself a night at a hostel and crash out on an overnight train!

Coaches are a great way to “slow travel” and see more of the places you are wanting to visit. Although they may take longer, they are often much cheaper and you get the bonus of incredible views along the way. If the extra time is a problem, night coaches are often a great option, bring a travel pillow and an eye mask and you’ll fall asleep in one place and wake up in another, saving money on a hostel for that night!

Renting a vehicle: If you’re in a group, renting a vehicle can often be the perfect option. Not only is it cost effective, but you can bring that road trip fantasy to reality. Whether it’s a competition like the Mongol Rally, or a road trip across North America, splitting the price of renting a vehicle is a great way to soak in your surroundings and have complete freedom with the routes and journeys you take. 

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