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The Carbon Footprint Of Flying

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

As travelers of the world today, I would like to believe that each of us is at least a little bit cautious of the footprint we leave behind. Heck, I hope we all are trying to do our part to protect the world we spend our entire life exploring and discovering.

But what happens when our means of travel is our biggest obstacle in protecting the places we hope to travel to in the first place?


My favorite landscapes to fly over-GREEN!

Let’s be frank. All human activities add to environmental pollution. Most of the ways we get around, do our jobs and live our lives contribute dramatically to global carbon emission. Flying is not any


Carbon emissions from airplanes are estimated to contribute more than 2% of total global emissions in the world.

2% may seem like a small number, but lowering that number by even half a percentage can make an enormous impact on our carbon footprint.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that hairdryers use up a lot of energy and subsequently are bad for the environment. If you’ve already sworn off your hairdryer all the props to you and keep it up. (It’s better for your hair anyways.) But I just want to put this in perspective for you.

Hairdryers in total put off 57 pounds of carbon emissions into the air each year. One air mile by itself produces close to the same amount. And we as a society TRAVEL A LOT.

If all climate-change causing emissions are included, one flight from the United States to Asia or from Asia to Europe can produce as much as 5 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions…To put that in perspective, 5 metric tons is the average amount of carbon dioxide produced by every human each year on the planet. -USA Today

Now, before you get too upset, I’m not asking you to swear off flying completely. No, even that would be a stretch for me. I want you to go home for your family thanksgiving and see the world you live in so completely you constantly dive into the cultures surrounding you.

Due to all the water around us, and frankly lack of time, we are going to need a plane more than occasionally. What I want you to be aware of is how much the aviation world damages the environment and gives you ways to reduce it when you can.

Maybe we can’t change the whole world overnight, but being educated, we can make little impacts every day.

Just to let you know, this post may contain affiliate links. Don't worry, they won't cost you anything extra. If you do decide to purchase something, I may receive a small commission. I absolutely hate ads so to avoid using them on my blog, the links I've attached cover the cost of running this site. I will only ever recommend products that I truly believe in or advocate for

Easy Ways to Minimize our Carbon Impact

Pack light

Just like packing down a semi, less weight means less energy the vehicle needs to produce to move forward. If everyone packed even just a little bit lighter or one less suitcase, it wouldn’t just save you money, but it would allow airlines to save on fuel-Hence, less carbon emission.

Don’t fly business

This one makes me especially sad because business/first class is SO NICE.

But the environment first!

The more people on a flight, the less it costs to transport those passengers. (For the airline and for the environment). The more people that book business and first-class, the more planes that are built to fulfill this need.

This means more planes in the sky flying fewer people per flight ->More flights in the sky spewing carbon dioxide in the air period.

Pack yourself a towel to take off your make-up, a few snacks and pretend you're drinking your free wine out of glass instead of plastic...not the same, but the earth thanks you.

Research your airlines

A lot of airlines are hopping on board (no pun intended) to cleaner air initiatives. Some already use cleaner gases and are working towards preventing unnecessary emissions when possible.

Google and research clean transportation and you’ll find lists of airlines that have already established healthier and greener habits. KLM and Air France tend to frequent the list in environmentally forward airlines while Delta and American Airlines seem to just not care.

Even something as little as the flight attendants telling you to close your window shades could be to keep the cabins from overheating and needing to produce more energy to cool them back down. Please listen to the flight attendants. If possible, book flights with greener airlines and support the good fight.

Book Longer Flights

One of the easiest ways to be a bit more environmentally conscious is to avoid short flights altogether. It makes sense that a shorter flight means less emission, right? Actually, short flights cause the most damage to the environment.

Planes burn less energy when they’re in cruising mode, so the power and energy needed to hurl a plane up into the sky to hop one city over is the same amount of power needed to hurl it up into the sky for a long flight.

Try to book direct flights and avoid lots of layovers to avoid the start-up emission of multiple planes. I know longer flights can be kinda miserable, but if it helps even a little bit, pack your plane socks and get comfy!

Take a Bus

Americans fly more than any other nationality as of today. Planes flying domestically in the United States make up for 1/3 of all flights. 1/3 of all flights happen just in this one country alone. Not all flights are avoidable, but consider cutting a few out.

Do you know what’s a better idea altogether? Unless you’re flying to the other side of the country or world by yourself, book a bus ticket. They’re becoming more and more affordable and although a longer option, you’ll be able to decrease your carbon footprint rather comfortably and more than likely with free Wi-Fi.


Not just you traveling? If you’re going somewhere with your family, consider making it a road trip. Cars produce far fewer emissions than planes. No matter how green planes become, it will still always take more energy to launch a big piece of metal into the sky, than it will take to keep one moving on the ground.


Pro Tip: If it’s a long trip and just you, it may just be more energy efficient to book that plane ticket. Research your options.

Buy offsets

“Offsets” are causes you can donate to, to help counteract the carbon footprint you created from your last flight. A little known fact is a lot of airlines already have partnerships with offset companies.

The causes can vary among many things such as powering windmills or even re-planting forests and jungles. It doesn’t cost nearly as much as you would assume, sometimes as little as 10 dollars can offset a domestic flight.

Be cautious in choosing your offset company, as with most charity work, not everything is trustworthy. Speak with your airline to see what companies, if any, they’re already working with to help simplify your decision process.


Have you ever bought offsets before or found otherwise to counteract your carbon footprint? Did you find it a difficult or easy process?

What other ways have you found to travel just a little bit more smartly?! I'm always looking for new ideas so make sure to comment below so we can all be just a little more loving to this planet!


Exploring the beautiful green pastures of the upper UK

If you enjoyed this article, want to learn more about environmentally conscious ways to travel, or just want to stay in the loop with all things adventure, make sure to subscribe to get all the updates!

I'm just a girl from Indiana, who loves to write and travel our beautiful earth! Follow me on Instagram or head to my "Home" page and send me a message! I would love to chat.

As always, God Bless and I hope to see you somewhere around the world.

Love, Kait

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