Go Green: 5 Tips for More Sustainable Employee Travel

green planeFun fact: The first Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a former U.S. senator, in 1970 as a way to bring ecological conservation to the national political agenda. To this day, Earth Day continues to be an annual event that is celebrated on April 22nd to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  In honor of Earth Day, we’re sharing some tips on how companies like yours can take a more sustainable approach to employee travel. These suggestions are simple, easy to implement, and best of all, can make a big difference in protecting our planet:

  1. Purchase Carbon Offsets: Did you know that air travel accounts for 2.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions? This may seem small, but for frequent-flyers, air travel is a significant slice of an individual’s contribution to climate change. And for companies with lots of frequent travelers, that adds up to a lot. When walking, biking, public transportation, hybrid cars and rail travel aren’t an option, consider authorizing your employees to purchase carbon offsets (or making it a company-wide initiative!). Carbon offsets fund a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions roughly equal to output, counterbalancing the effects of air travel. Companies like TerraPass make it possible for you to calculate your carbon footprint related to air travel, driving and even at home and purchase carbon offsets accordingly.
  2. Choose Smarter Flights: Flying during the day is thought to be more eco-friendly because an airplane’s contrails reflect sunlight, limiting the amount of warming caused by emissions. Other green air travel tips include: flying nonstop, taking economy class (which generally allows more people per plane, which means fewer emissions per person) and consolidating trips that are geographically close together. If possible, consider booking flights with airlines that have been recognized for their sustainable business practices. In a recent report by Greenopia, Virgin America was declared the most environmentally friendly airline in the United States, and Lufthansa ranked first in Europe.
  3. Book Eco-friendly Hotels: Fortunately, more hotels are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints . Consider encouraging employees to seek out hotels that are either Green Seal or LEED Certified (or both!)– these venues are doing their best to help the environment, including using flow-restrictive shower heads, low flow toilets, energy efficient lighting and linen programs that reduce waste. When staying at these places, guests not only get the satisfaction of traveling green, but can also enjoy perks like organic bath products, free hybrid parking and bicycle rentals.
  4. Host Greener Meetings: Many meeting planners are now taking the environmental sustainability of their company’s events into deeper consideration. You may think hosting an eco-friendly event is complicated and costly, but in actuality, it’s the contrary! In fact, green meetings not only help reduce your company’s impact on the environment, but can also help lower the cost of your events. Simple steps like selecting eco-friendly hotels and suppliers, choosing a central location to limit transportation needs, minimizing paper with web-based materials, providing snacks with locally-sourced ingredients and even serving distilled instead of bottled water can go a long way in making your meetings more sustainable. For more information about planning greener events, visit the official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
  5. Promote Volunteerism: Have you ever considered offering your employees the opportunity to give back…on company time? Several environmental volunteer projects are available to professionals in a variety of areas including: reforestation, sustainable farming, biodiversity, ecosystem preservation, national park development, botanical research and even cleaning up pollution, to name a few. Paid volunteer work is an increasingly popular benefit offered by some pretty savvy employers—Microsoft, Timberland and Price Waterhouse Coopers to name a few. Corporate volunteeringis obviously not a new concept, but it is one that is getting more popular. According to a recent study from UnitedHealth Group, 78% of people who volunteered in the last year reported lower stress levels (we all know frequent travelers could benefit from that!) and 76% said that volunteering made them feel healthier. And a whopping four out of five of respondents said they feel better about their employer as a result of their work-sponsored volunteer activities.

Has your company instituted any green travel policies and initiatives that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!


Safe and Sustainable Travels!