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6 ways to make your next business trip more sustainable

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Shadow of a plane moving captured as it flies above a valley of trees

Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg hit the news back in August when, to attend a meeting in New York, she took a two-week journey across the Atlantic by boat, rather than fly. And across the board, we’re increasingly conscious of the impact of our travel choices. According to Booking.com’s 2019 Sustainable Travel report, 55% of global travellers say they are more determined to make sustainable travel choices this year than they were a year ago. If you’re one of them, there are decisions big and small you can make to help reduce your environmental impact, many of which will enrich your overall experience of the places where you’re doing business.

1) Go direct when flying
With video conferencing making face-to-face meetings a cost-effective virtual reality, your first question should be whether you need to fly at all. If the answer to that is an unavoidable yes, always go direct.

According to a report by NASA, about 25 per cent of aeroplane emissions come from take-off, landing and taxiing, so by choosing to go direct, you avoid doubling up on the emissions-heavy parts of the journey.

Some business travel providers and aggregators offer a feature on their websites that recommends which flight to choose based on lower-than-average emissions.

2) Sleep wisely
If you’re staying overnight, seek out a hotel that has high environmental standards and supports the local community. And be a green guest: turn off aircon and appliances when leaving the room, reuse towels and take advantage of recycling facilities.

Ecobnb can help you find any type of eco-friendly accommodation, from bio hotels to zero-emission chalets.

3) Eat like a local
When looking for places to eat and drink, spend your money at a family-run restaurant or neighbourhood favourite so that you’re contributing directly to the local economy and infrastructure. When choosing from the menu, let the slow-food movement be your inspiration – pick a dish that uses regional produce or unusual local delicacies.

4) Investigate carbon offsetting
One of the ways air travellers can reduce the impact they have on the environment is through carbon offsetting their flights. However, with no standard certification on this, you need to look closely at your preferred airline to make sure they really are doing good things with their carbon-offset schemes.

A handful of verified schemes include Qantas’s Future Planet programme; Air Canada’s work with Less Emissions, Brussels Airlines with CO2 Logic and Austrian Airlines with Carbon Austria.

And consider your journeys on the ground, too. Every Gett taxi ride is carbon-neutral – it offsets 7,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

5) Make it a bleisure trip
According to an Expedia Group survey, ‘bleisure’ – a portmanteau of business and leisure – is a trend that’s rapidly on the rise, with 60 per cent of US business trips featuring an added leisure element, up from 43 per cent in 2016.

The concept, where business travellers add days or weeks to their business trips to maximise their time away, has been driven by a number of factors, including the rise of platform-economy brands, such as Air BnB; people wanting to see more than just the hotel of a city they are visiting; and a desire for people to make more sustainable travel choices.

6) Pack clever
Finally, when preparing for your trip, try to pack as light as possible: the more luggage a plane has, the heavier it is and the more fuel it will use.

When it comes to what to pack, always bring your own filtered water bottle to save you buying plastic on the go, and if you’re a coffee connoisseur, be sure to pack your keep cup.

It may sound like an insignificant gesture, but The Environmental Audit Commission released a report last year which found that in the UK, we use seven million disposable coffee cups every day, which equates to 2.5 billion every year. Globally, half a trillion disposable cups are manufactured annually, which is more than 70 for every person on the planet.

Image credits: Getty Images, Adobe Stock

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