Do you know what flying does to the environment?

Aviation is one of the worst contributors to global warming. Source: Erwan Hesry / Unsplash

HOW many times have you heard the phrases, “climate change,” “carbon emissions,” and “global warming” this year so far?

If you haven’t heard it at all, you must be living under a rock. But that’s good for the environment.

For everyone else, these terms have become part of an everyday narrative, a looming tragedy that is set to alter the future of the world as we know it.

If you’ve ever watched or read the news, you’re probably also aware that flying is one of the worst contributors to global warming.

Flying produces atmosphere pollutants and heavily adds to a passenger’s carbon footprint.

A study recently published by Asia-based universities in Nature Climate Change declared the carbon footprint of tourism is four times higher than originally thought.

A single return flight from Melbourne to London produces 16.8 tonnes of CO2 per passengers.

Every year, around 37.4 million flights carrying four billion passengers took off.

The cumulative carbon footprint of all these flyers equals 64 billion tonnes of Co2 emissions.

But people aren’t going to give up flying. Business meetings and family emergencies mean flying is a necessary factor in everyday life.

Additionally, people save for years at a time to take loved ones on vacation. And while planned-in-advanced trips could be made via boat, car, bus or train, people don’t want to waste their precious days off traveling when they could fly in within hours.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. We can halt the effects of global warming and try to reverse the existing damage.

But it starts with you. Every person on this planet can take part in something called carbon offsetting.

Carbon offsetting is essentially giving back to Mother Nature and being proactive in counteracting the effects of carbon dioxide emission.

Here are five ways to offset your carbon footprint if you simply can’t give up flying.

Only fly when necessary

Instead of eradicating flying from your life entirely, only do it when there is no alternative.

There is plenty of trodden non-flying paths out there which have been tried and tested.

Rent a car and sightsee through countries to reach your destination. Alternatively, you could hop on a bus and make new friends on your journey.

Perhaps even hire tandem and weave through the mountains with your love map reading as you pedal up front.

Alternative transports not only reduce your carbon footprint but also adds excitement to a journey that a long metal flying tube just doesn’t provide.

Eat less meat

This may sound strange, but cow and sheep farming produce huge amounts of greenhouse gasses.

Rearing animals for food take up a lot of lands, uses tonnes of energy, food, and water, and of course result in the death of millions of animals.

According to PETA, a staggering 51 percent of global carbon emission are caused by animal agriculture.

Limiting the amount of meat you consume, especially lamb and beef, can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Maybe try a vegetarian or vegan diet a few times a week or cut it out completely.

Become less materialistic

Buying new things gives us a buzz, but it’s killing the Earth’s vibes.

For example, buying mass-produced clothing is harmful to the environment in so many ways.

According to EcoWatch, an estimated 70 percent of Asia’s rivers and lakes are contaminated by the 2.4 billion gallons of wastewater produced by the world’s textile industry.

A single pair of jeans uses hundreds of gallons of water and harsh chemicals which end up in the waterways people rely on to live.

Equally, lots of contemporary clothing contains plastics which won’t biodegrade once we’re done wearing them.

Buying less “stuff” can certainly reduce your carbon footprint, up to as much as two to three days’ worth of energy consumption, according to The Guardian.

Invest in saving the world

One of the best ways to pay your dues to Earth and save money in the process is to invest in your own sources of renewable energy.

Putting solar panels on your roof or in the garden can churn out enough energy to run your entire household and see a return on the cost of the equipment in no time.

Organic doesn’t always mean good

We are taught that the organic means good. While this is true to an extent – fewer pesticides and chemicals – it’s not always local.

In Mike Berners-Lee’s 2010 book, How Bad are Bananas, he assesses the carbon footprint of everything, from a text message to a war, from a Valentine’s rose to a flight, or even having a child.

In the book, he addresses how bananas are fine because they’re shipped into colder climates, but organic asparagus flown in from Peru is bad.

This applies to all consumerism. Just because something has a positive label, it doesn’t mean its ethically or responsibly sourced.

The handy app Buycott can help determine the origins of the products you buy.

So, enjoy your next trip, but before you set off, figure out how you’re going to give back to planet Earth.