The best apps for tracking your carbon footprint

It’s possible to be a travel addict and not kill the environment. Source: Shutterstock.

WE can’t escape the fact that flying is the most carbon-intensive modes of transport on planet Earth.

A short flight from New York to California or Perth to Sydney, for example, is the equivalent of 20 percent of the greenhouse gases a car emits annually.

But over three billion people still use this mode of transport every year, and some flyers’ seat choice is having even more of a negative effect on the environment than they might realize.

A study from The World Bank showed that those who choose to fly in first class and business class have a carbon footprint three times the size of those who sit in economy class.

This is because airlines expend more fuel to carry premium seat passengers and on average, first class and business class passengers tend to take more luggage with them.

But no matter where you sit on an aircraft, every single flyer contributes to climate change.

Although aircraft are undoubtedly more efficient and less emission-emitting than they were 50 years ago, the increase of passengers has almost canceled out the positive effects of improved aviation technology and fuel efficiency.

They still emit high levels of dangerous gases, heat, noise, and particles which are all contributing to the destruction of the planet.

So, with an estimated 50,000 commercial planes set to take to the skies by 2040 and no sign of traveling becoming unpopular, is there any hope for the environment?

Thankfully, yes there is.

Source: Shutterstock.

There are actions every traveler can take to either reduce their carbon footprint or give back to the environment through a process called carbon offsetting.

Carbon offsetting works by counteracting the carbon emissions you’ve inadvertently released into the atmosphere while traveling.

This can be done through actions such as planting trees. However, growing a few conifers in your back garden isn’t going to help a whole lot.

Therefore, it’s more beneficial to donate to larger corporations such a NativeEnergy who work alongside brands such as Ben and Jerry’s to give back to the environment.

Currently, NativeEnergy is planting 100,000 trees in Uganda to help the vanilla farmers who supply Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

If you’re interested in carbon offsetting, you’ll first need to calculate your carbon footprint.

And thanks to environmentally-conscious, creative app developers, your carbon footprint is now easier than ever to calculate, reduce and offset.

To get into the groove of protecting the planet you live on, here are a few recommendations of apps you can use to help combat global climate change.

Carbon Footprint Calculator

This app does exactly what its name implies. It’s aimed at helping those with busy lifestyles by quickly and conveniently calculate their day-to-day carbon footprint, from the commute to work to the efficiency of their central heating.

However, if you want to single out your carbon footprint produced through flying alone, we suggest downloading Flight CO2 Calculator.

As well as calculating your carbon footprint, the app also offers users the chance to offset by donating to climate protection schemes run by myClimate.org.

Pledge Balance

Another way to offset through donation is by using the newly developed app, Pledge Balance.

“The app is a personal pledge to take responsibility for your negative travel impact, balancing it with a small payment that is invested in offset projects like planting trees,” a Pledge Balance spokesperson told Travel Wire Asia.

For a donation as little as $US0.76, you can offset the huge carbon footprint you will have created by flying 500 kilometers.

“The Pledge Balance app is one very targeted way to start (carbon offsetting), that will be widely adopted and be responsible for removing millions to tons of CO2 from the atmosphere,” he added.

Ultimately, carbon offsetting is a last-ditch attempt to counteract the damage your traveling has done to the planet. But before you need to donate to these organizations, you should aim to minimize your carbon footprint before it’s even been created.

If the biggest contributor to your carbon footprint is travel, try swapping the modes of transport you use. For example, swap driving for a bus or train, or even better, walk or cycle.

However, if you do need to fly, ensure you pack lightly, sit in economy, and make the most out of your trip so that the carbon-intensive journey wasn’t for nothing.