We know we can reduce our footprint by reducing our travel, but for those times when we have to travel, have you considered what your footprint looks like as a passenger on a plane?
The average passenger generates three pounds of waste per flight, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In 2017, the total amount of passenger waste was 5.7 million tons. While this number includes toilet waste, the bulk of it comes from paper, cardboard, and plastic.
This is costly for airlines, as well. The IATA estimates disposal costs for airlines add up to $700 million per year.
However, replacing these materials isn’t a straightforward process. Metal is not allowed on planes for safety reasons, and ceramic weighs more, increasing CO2emissions. That means, the best way to reduce overall waste lies in the hands of individuals.
Three Tips to Reduce Your Footprint While Traveling
1. Tickets: With eight million people flying a day, there’s a lot of waste. Think about all the little pieces of paper that end up at the bottom of your bag. This is what happens on planes with paper tickets.
Tip: Download your tickets on your phone.
2. Drinks: On average, people drink at least one plastic cup of water each flight; that’s eight million cups a day.
Tip: BYOC - bring your own cup or water bottle. Most flight attendants will fill up your container. If you get pushback, just tell them, “I am trying to reduce plastic waste.”
3. Food: I ordered the Tapas kit on my last United flight, and you would have thought there was a fragile lightbulb in there. Each item was carefully packaged.
Tip: Bring your own snacks/meals. I like to use a steel lunch container or mason jar to pack meals and stow snacks. Also, this helps save you money and serves as a great way to transport food later.
We love our disposable products because we don’t see what they create when we’re finished with them. Small changes come together to form big changes over a lifetime. Even minor adjustments to make our travel more eco-friendly can create significant ripples across years and decades.