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18 tips for eco-friendly business trips

Posted: 09 April 2021

Travel has a big impact on the environment. In 2018, the travel industry contributed roughly 8% of the world’s global carbon emissions. And while the industry as a whole is working toward cutting that number in half by 2035 to help the fight against climate change, your travellers make more of a positive impact than they might think.

This will come as welcome news to your travellers. According to a survey from Publicis Sapient conducted in April 2020, 58% of respondents said they’re thinking about the environment and sustainability more than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sustainability matters to travellers — and even more to the younger generation in your workforce. From the big changes such as energy-efficient cars for road trips, to the smaller swaps like using reusable cutlery (goodbye plastic straws!), the more you can help clean up their travel and equip them for more responsible travel, the better you’ll be at serving their needs.

When thinking about the holistic carbon footprint of a trip, there are some fairly conspicuous ways you can clean up, like avoiding air travel where possible. But there are many other less obvious choices that can make a difference too.

It’s also worth considering that sustainability and responsible travel is more than the environment. It’s about communities and people too. Business travellers have the power to make a positive impact wherever they go and support the local people.

Here are 18 tips you can share with your travellers to help them lighten the impact of their business trips and guide them to becoming an eco-friendlier traveller.

Planning sustainable travel

Making a trip more sustainable starts in the planning phase. Egencia helps travellers make eco-friendly choices by showing their carbon footprint for each stage of an itinerary, along with real-life examples for context. Here are steps your travellers can take while planning to make their trip more sustainable.

  • Book a non-stop flight
    Non-stop flights use less fuel than flights with multiple take-offs and landings. Taking a direct, non-stop flight with the same start and end points will have a lesser carbon impact than one with stopovers.
  • Book rail instead of air
    For shorter trips, travellers should consider booking a train instead of a plane. Trains have a fraction of the carbon footprint that planes do, and stations are often conveniently located in city centres.
  • Hybrid or electric car rentals
    If you have to rent a car, look into sustainable options like hybrid or electric. Travellers can find sustainable options when booking with Egencia.
    To discover more ways you can achieve greener travel, check out our blog on alternative options for green business travel.
  • Choose hotels strategically
    If you’ve set up custom badges for your own list of sustainability-focused hotels, your travellers can use those visual cues to guide their choices. They can also choose a hotel close to the company’s or client’s headquarters or project sites, so they can walk or take public transport instead of having to rely on cars or taxis to get to their destination.
  • Pack light
    When flying, each pound of baggage adds a burden for additional fuel. Travellers can choose a lightweight suitcase, and pack clothes that are made of lighter materials that they can mix and match. Lightening a bag by 15 pounds can cut 80 pounds of carbon emissions on a long-haul flight, which is roughly the equivalent to planting two trees.
  • Pack toiletries in reusable containers
    Those little containers of shampoo and conditioner take a toll on the environment in numerous ways. Plastics are carbon intensive to make and destructive to the environment. Business travellers can help by packing their own toothbrushes and toiletries in reusable containers so they don’t have to use disposable single-use items found at hotels. (Bonus points for using biodegradable soap and shampoo!)
  • Reuse food containers
    Instead of buying a bag of chips or chocolates on the road, which come in not so eco-friendly packaging, travellers can pack their own in reusable bags.
  • Alternative ground transport
    Choosing a rideshare, such as UberPool or Lyft, over a cab means the carbon footprint of a ride is distributed among more people. Public transport is an even more sustainable choice. And nowadays, many cities worldwide have options for bikes, electric bikes and even scooters to get from one point to another.

Make it a sustainable stay

Responsible travel doesn’t have to end once your travellers are at their destination. Here are 10 more things they can do to lighten their impact while on the road.

  • Bring a reusable bag
    Tucking a reusable bag into a purse or backpack for items you purchase while travelling means travellers can take a pass on plastic bags. It’ll lighten their carbon impact and reduce pollution at their destination.
  • Bring a water bottle and coffee cup
    Plastic water bottles are an environmental no-no. Every plastic bottle created takes ¼ bottle of oil to make; the amount of oil it takes to make a year’s supply of bottled water is enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. So, replace single-use plastic for reusable bottles and cups.
  • Reusable utensils
    Your travellers may already be on top of the plastic water bottle situation, but have they thought about all the plastic utensils they use when they’re on the road? Travellers can bring their own set of bamboo utensils (there are plenty of sets that come with a travelling case) and clean up in soapy water when their get back to their hotel.
  • Reusable straws
    Plastic straws are another common source of plastic. Travellers can find metal or bamboo straws that come with a carrying case and a cleaning wire that’ll easily tuck into a backpack or briefcase.

Consider creating sustainable travel packs for your business travellers, including a reusable water bottle so they can take their own water (bonus if it can double as a coffee mug), tote bag, utensil kit and straw.

  • Opt for “Do Not Disturb”
    Laundry accounts for 16% of a hotel’s water usage. Skipping the daily laundering of sheets and towels can make a big difference to your traveller’s environmental impact during their stay.
  • Turn off the air conditioning
    As tempting as it may be to keep the air conditioning or heat running all day, that choice can rack up carbon emissions. Heating and cooling systems account for 40-50% of a hotel’s energy usage. Encouraging your travellers to turn it off when they’re not in their room — and to open the window instead of using air conditioning — can make a difference.
  • Turn off the lights — and computers
    We may be diligent about turning off lights when we’re home, but it’s easy to become more lax when on the road. Remind your travellers to take a look around and make sure they’ve turned off all the lights — and any electronics — before they leave their hotel room.
  • Eat less meat
    While this tip isn’t exclusively travel related, it’s one to bear in mind when on the road (and when at home). Red meat is nearly 7 times as carbon intensive to produce than vegetables. Cutting out even one meat-centred meal a week can make a big difference.
  • Eat (and drink) local
    Fast food and chain restaurants have higher carbon footprints than local spots sourcing regional ingredients. Plus, when travellers support independent cafés and restaurants, they’re contributing to the local economy.
  • Buy souvenirs from a local source
    We can think local when it comes to souvenirs, too. If your travellers are eager to pick up a memento, suggest they consider visiting a local market rather than buying at chain or airport souvenir shops. This way they can make a positive impact while supporting local communities.

Check out what else we’re doing to help you achieve greener business travel.

Want to find out more business travel solutions and sustainability?