How and Why You Can Offset Your Flights

person holding a small suitcase and passport at the airport

We are living in a far more eco-conscious world with many of us wanting to do the best we can for the future of our planet and all those that live on it. There are a wide range of steps we can take to make positive changes each day but when it comes to travel this is far more tricky and most will significantly increase your carbon footprint. You’ll probably be pleased to hear that car, coach and train travel are all much better for the environment so you do have those options to weigh up when it comes to making your holiday plans but I am sure you will already be very aware that both cruise liner and plane travel will have a much larger negative impact.

Now, I am not about to ever dictate to anybody how they should be travelling, it isn’t my place (or anybody’s for that matter) but what I can do is share some knowledge and my experience of offsetting our flight this year.

How Bad Is Air Travel?

It’s not great I’m afraid. Planes emit around 100 times more CO2 than a shared bus or train ride and it is estimated that air travel contributes to 2.4 per cent of global annual CO2 emissions. New technologies are being investigated – the likes of biofuels and electric planes – but progress takes both time and money so, like most issues like this, it’s a slow process.

Why Offset?

Choosing not to fly isn’t always an option. You may need to travel for work, for research purposes, you may have family in other countries, you may need to attend an event/wedding/funeral and of course, you may just simply want to see the world and flying is the only suitable choice. Whatever the reason for flying, you can end up feeling guilty for the carbon emissions that are being produced which is where offsetting comes in. This service allows you to calculate your carbon footprint and will give you an amount (in your chosen currency) which can then be donated to worthy climate causes.

But That’s Not a Solution, Is It?

No, it’s not, it is just simply the best option we have if you take a flight (you can’t take that carbon away that has been produced). At least this way you can try to make a difference in an area that works positively for climate change or other eco issues.

map on a table with a laptop and camera. Two hands planning a holiday

Onto My Experience…

This year we chose to fly to go on holiday firstly because it was cheaper to go abroad, secondly because of the availability and thirdly because we do want to see the world and allow our children to as well. As somebody who is very eco-conscious, I really did struggle with this decision and there were a lot of discussions around all of the plans. As somebody who publicly shares eco swaps, eco issues, climate change info and so on, I felt that I had a duty to share every step of this decision-making and how and why we were offsetting. This is what I shared on social media:

“If you are taking a plane flight this year and your eco guilt is all too real (hello me!) you can choose to offset your carbon footprint by donating to a charity. I found an online calculator for our flight and as it’s not a big one (3 hours) it came out as £56 for all four of us.

I then had a bit of a think about where my money could go to make a difference – you CAN choose a generic carbon footprint company but I wanted to look around at my options. Having recently written about peat free compost I learnt so much about peat bogs and how important they are for our environment. These are huge carbon stores and are vital in the fight against climate change but of course we (humans!) have worked our destructive magic on these too and because peat is a useful product in other ways these wonderful bogs/land now need attention and conservation. So I thought that helping to protect these was a perfect way for us to offset our flight and so I donated our £56 to The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (they have different conservation works you can select to donate to) here:

There is a constant internal battle when it comes to taking a plane but I really don’t want to deny my children having varied holidays or prevent them from seeing the world (myself too) so eliminating flying altogether isn’t an option for me (please don’t come at me over this. I’ve already had one person do so and I don’t need more. I’ve always been open and honest about certain aspects of my life and I always will be. I last flew in 2019, if you want to have a go at somebody take a look at the likes of Kylie Jenner who has been taking a private jet to literally go up the road!!)

I did write about flying in an eco conscious world back in 2020 to give more ways in which you can help to reduce your guilt, reduce your carbon footprint in your everyday life and make everyday positive changes. I hope all of this helps.”

This was the first time I have used an offsetting system because back in 2019 I wasn’t as aware of climate issues and had never heard of offsetting flights. It has been a huge insight and really interesting to both look into and discuss with many of you online. Like me, many agree that we work hard to protect this world that we love and because we love this world, we want the chance to see it, explore it and experience it. Unfortunately, not every destination is accessible via train or car and so offsetting provides us with a small solution to flying.

a lady on a laptop

How To Offset

There are many online websites and calculators that can aid you in offsetting your flight. I would recommend checking out this great article from Which on the topic and doing your own research before jumping straight in. The reason for this is that you want to ensure that your money is going to a reputable company/charity, that you can feel confident that the appropriate climate action is taken (I am a little wary of all these tree planting schemes) and that you opt for something that will make a difference.

Some airlines now offer an offset option when you book so this is another choice but I would just do your research to make sure that your money is going to good use.

Your last option would be to make a monthly donation to a chosen charity to offset your carbon footprint all year round. A few examples include:

Reducing Your Flight Impact

You can reduce your flight impact further by:

  • Flying economy rather than first or business class
  • Don’t choose a private jet (not sure my targeted audience can afford that but I wanted to include it as private jets carry the biggest carbon footprint)
  • Packing light
  • Fly direct
  • Choose shorter flights

Other Steps You Can Take

Making a sustainable difference in your daily lifestyle can have a big impact on your carbon footprint and the environment. Things like:

And do not overlook the impact you can have by:

  • Signing petitions, writing to your MP, attending protests, joining local climate change groups and sharing information on social media or with friends and family.

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