By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
This summer, hundreds of thousands of us will travel. For most of us, catching a flight is a normal part of life, and often the prospect of taking flight means we’ll be arriving at a new destination soon, often with new horizons, culture and food. However, we know that flying pollutes the Earth with harmful carbon emissions, and so it’s something that should be of a concern to all of us.
I’m an eco-entrepreneur, with an ethical approach to my businesses that range from vegan cafés, to sustainable packaging solutions, and vegan skincare — however, wherever I can I want to ensure that I am also an ethical consumer. When travelling, I do this by ensuring I bring my own bottle of water in a (reusable bottle). I also bring my own headphones and amenities so that I am able to reduce the amount of waste onboard, and of course — I bring my vegan food to consume when airborne to ensure I’m staying healthy and nourished with quality ingredients which are especially necessary when in a closed environment like a pressurised airplane cabin
However, the one thing I have discovered recently is that I can offset the carbon for my journey which helps reduce the impact I have had while airborne. If you’ve never heard of carbon offsetting before, you’re not alone. It seems it’s not popular here in the Middle East yet, but it’s widely used almost everywhere else. Carbon offset schemes allow passengers to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their carbon footprint that will be created as a result of taking a flight. How do I do this? I pay around $10 to a reputable carbon offset journey who calculate the air miles I will be travelling from A to B. My $10 then goes towards reforestation (the planting of more trees), conservation projects in developing countries, and more. In simple terms, it’s the company promising me that the action they will take will ‘cancel out’ my emissions. Will the aircraft still be polluting the sky? Yes — but carbon offsetting is a way in which we can travel more ethically for now, until a more sustainable solution to flying is available.
One thing I discovered is that major airlines, including British Airways, Delta, United and Qantas all offer Carbon Offsetting as part of the flight booking process. However, it’s not currently an option given to passengers of Qatar Airways here in Doha, which is something I think we need as soon as possible. We all have a role to play in ensuring we are ‘doing our bit’ to help save the planet — and so carbon offsetting is a better way to fly — hopefully it will be encouraged by our national airline soon so that we can have a more ethical consumer-approach to flying.
Do you carbon offset your flights? Are you aware of other ways in which we can travel more sustainably? Feel free to reach out to me on social media to share your experience!
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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