What is Sustainable Travel?

The term ‘Sustainable Travel’ or ‘Sustainable Tourism’ has been used a lot lately but what is sustainable travel?

In this blog post we’ll explore what it means to travel sustainably plus how do it for very little effort or cost. There are many ways of implementing small changes which make a huge difference. We’ll explore how larger companies are tackling climate change and becoming more sustainable.

We’ll look at emissions caused by travelling, how to use tree offsetting effectively and the science behind the process.

What does it mean to be Sustainable?

The term ‘sustainable’ is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:

‘involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment’

So how is this possible when travelling? You may wonder how a sector such as aviation can be sustainable when it contributes to so much of the World’s emissions.

It’s true that a lot of it is out of our hands. A lot of the responsibility comes down to the big companies in becoming more energy efficient. However, many of the big airlines are making a huge effort already. Air New Zealand have pledged to stabilise emissions through carbon neutral growth post 2020.

Some of their initiatives are fantastic and here are just a few:

  • FlyNeutral – Encourages customers to minimise the impact of their air travel on the environment through offsetting the greenhouse gas (‘carbon’) emissions.
  • Sustainable biofuels and Electric vehicles to reduce the amount of carbon emissions.
  • Operational initiatives; reduce electricity usage, waste and Inflight waste.

Qantas recently flew it’s first waste free flight with aims to eliminate 100 million pieces of single-use plastic from flights by the end of 2021. In so doing, the airline will reduce its waste by a whopping 75 per cent!

What is sustainable travel?

How can we become more Sustainable?

Just like the FlyNeutral scheme, one of the ways that The Mindful Travel Co. minimise our environmental impact is through ‘Carbon offsetting.’

Offsetting company Carbonfootprint.com says “Carbon offsetting is a way to reduce the emissions that you can’t. It both helps to combat global climate change as well as caring for local communities. In many instances providing much needed employment, health improvement, biodiversity and broad social benefits to impoverished communities.”

The Mindful Travel Co. specialise in calculating the carbon footprint of your trip before planting the trees required to offset these emissions. We work alongside One Tree Planted to support the World’s reforestation projects and we make these donations FREE OF CHARGE.

We also support and recommend.tour operators who support Eco Tourism. Equipping you with the knowledge of the environmental cost of your trip is another of the unique benefits of booking a trip with us. This helps raise awareness and involves you in the process of being Mindful of your footprint.

So, how exactly does tree offsetting work? Let’s start at the beginning; Carbon

What is a Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is defined as:

The total amount of greenhouse gases (carbon emissions) produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)’

There are both natural and human sources of carbon dioxide emissions. Human sources come from activities like deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas for things like travel, power and fuel. Your own personal contribution is called your carbon footprint.

When you heat or light your house or cook with oil, gas or coal, you generate CO2. The same occurs when you drive your car, take a plane or a boat ride, even when you have your dinner. Think about how your food got to your plate… The greenhouse gases caused by the farming of livestock, the fuel used transporting food around the country, the power used to chill and cook this product.

So, how do we get rid of these harmful gases and protect our planet?

How can we offset our carbon emissions?

Our partners, One Tree Planted, explains why trees are so important to the environment:

“Trees help cool the planet by sucking in and storing harmful greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, into their trunks, branches, and leaves, and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. In cities, trees can reduce overall temperature by up to eight degrees Celsius. With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities—a number expected to increase to 66% by the year 2050—pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat. Fortunately, trees can absorb up to 150 kg of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live.”

Trees are like the vacuums of our planet. In urban environments, trees absorb pollutant gases like nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide, and sweep up particles like dust and smoke. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide caused by deforestation and fossil fuel combustion trap heat in the atmosphere. Healthy, strong trees act as carbon sinks; absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide and reducing the effects of climate change.

How exactly do trees absorb Carbon Dioxide?

Photosynthesis. Trees and plants essentially use these gases, along with water and sunlight to make glucose for growth. A by-product of this process is the Oxygen that we breathe.

In its simplest form, this important reaction convert CO2 [carbon dioxide] and H2O [water] plus energy [sunlight] into O2 [oxygen] and (C6H12O6) [glucose].

How many trees do I need to plant to offset my emissions?

Tree offset calculation is based on a tree planted in the humid tropics absorbing on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full potential.

Our mission is to plant the number of trees that have the potential to offset the emissions caused by the packages that we sell. We use an emissions calculator to estimate the carbon footprint of your trip and we make a donation on your behalf. Our tree planting partners who will plant the trees required to offset your trip therefore minimising the damage to the planet.

What is sustainable travel?

Our Tree Offsetting Packages

Our 14 day package between Sydney and Cairns accounts for 14 days of food and waste, 2900km travel by coach, a return ferry journey, a 2 day cruise and a day cruise. The approximate Carbon Emissions for this package reach 2 tons of CO2.

Based on evidence that a tree can absorb as much as 1 ton of CO2 over a lifetime. The Mindful Travel Co. plant 4 trees per ton of CO2 to speed up the offsetting process.

When you book this package we will plant 8 trees to offset your Carbon footprint.

This is a free service and doesn’t cost you a penny! The donation is made on your behalf, and for FREE, by The Mindful Travel Co.

Your can view our tree planting fundraising page here.

“Our mission is to offer personalised, eco-conscious trips, around Australia and New Zealand, helping you to offset your carbon footprint on the adventure of a lifetime”

– The Mindful Travel Co.

Example:

Our 14 day Mindful Individual East Coast package:

2900km journey by coach

14 days of accommodation/food/waste

2 days sailing in the Whitsundays

2 days 4WD driving on Fraser Island

1 day cruising GBR

2 metric tons of CO2 emissions = We plant 8 trees to offset these emissions

Let’s talk about our tree planting initiative

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