6 Ways Aviation Is Already Becoming More Sustainable

According to Investopedia, "sustainability seeks to prevent the depletion of natural or physical resources so that they will remain available for the long term." Over the last few decades, airline companies have begun to take their environmental responsibilities more seriously. However, amid fears of greenwashing accusations, some are reluctant to advertise all their sustainability initiatives, even successful ones.  

Indeed, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at an IATA summit that, although the industry takes its environmental role seriously, carriers could publicize all their initiatives more. Of course, flying will not be a zero-emission activity in the near future. Nevertheless, the aviation community has made significant strides. This roundup highlights some important ways aviation is already becoming more sustainable.

Carbon Offsets Are Widely Available

Safeguarding ancient woodlands and growing young trees contributes to environmental sustainability. Participating in alternative energy sources such as wind farms also makes sense. In addition, some airlines allow customers to buy carbon offsets. United Airlines, for example, has collaborated with Conservation International to push for nature-based global warming responses.

Airlines Help Educate their Passengers

Not every traveler understands the full impact of their mobility on the climate. Flying economy instead of business class and traveling light are two techniques to make a significant contribution. Remember, a lighter aircraft consumes less fuel.

Airline companies can also make consumers more aware of eco-tourism options and encourage them by providing guides with eco-friendly ideas and suggestions that are kind to the environment and local people. Furthermore, some airlines actively promote sustainable destinations.

Fuel Efficiency Is Up

Improving fuel economy is undoubtedly a smart approach to decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, and several companies are doing it by lowering aircraft weight. Everything from advanced airframe materials to lightweight monitors and

Biofuels Are Growing in Popularity

In June 2019, United Airlines achieved the distinction of conducting the most environmentally friendly flight on record. According to a news release from United, this was done by "using a 30/70 blend of low-carbon, sustainable aviation fuel provided by Boston-based World Energy, and traditional jet fuel." Biofuels are regarded as an excellent sustainability technique. However, they are now more costly than ordinary jet fuel.

Many Flights Are Foregoing Single-Use Plastics and Extra Merchandise

Some airlines are reducing waste in addition to weight on their flights. There is an ever-growing list of carriers who have replaced single-use plastic food packaging and cutlery with more eco-friendly options.  

Moreover, some airlines are anticipating changes in customer purchasing behavior and implementing modifications such as discontinuing duty-free sales in flight. This decreases the need to transport additional merchandise, reducing fuel consumption and responding to current passenger buying patterns.

Some Routes Source Food Locally

Providing local produce and seasonally appropriate meals minimizes the GHG footprint of the food supply chain. For example, while most lettuce on planes is supplied from Arizona or California, Singapore Airlines pioneered a "farm-to-plane" idea on the world's longest journey. They retained the services of a 40,000-square-foot urban farm in Newark, barely 5 miles from the airport. The vertical farm supplies baby greens and fresh lettuce for the epic 19-hour flight.

Key Takeaways 
  • Avoid Overtourism – Leaving behind tourist traps and sometimes underwhelming "bucket list" destinations is a great way to avoid disappointment and stimulate local economies in need.
  • No Lightning Tours – Slow down. Instead of bouncing around on a hectic tour, you won't remember half of, stay in one spot for a while and get to know the people and culture. It's a much more engaging and fulfilling travel experience that uses less fuel!
  • Think Efficient – Ground transportation is almost always better for the environment than flight. It keeps you closer to all the reasons you travel in the first place. When in doubt, rent a bike.