Sustainable Business Travel

How to make your business travel more sustainable in 3 simple steps

Discover three simple tips to make your business travel more sustainable, while cutting costs and reducing carbon emissions at the same time!

Introduction: Identifying the biggest source of emissions 

If you’re travelling frequently for work, your emissions can quickly add up, and aside from eliminating business travel altogether (which for most businesses is unrealistic), you may be wondering what other ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and make your business travel more sustainable. 

There is no getting around the fact that air travel is the single most polluting part of your trip, so taking steps to reduce those emissions can really make a difference to your total carbon footprint. If we take the example of a round-trip, business class flight from Copenhagen to New York City, your flight alone will emit around 5.0 tonnes of CO2e, whereas the emissions for your hotel stay and meals for a five-night trip count for only around 0.2 tCO2e.


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(Source: Goodwings' carbon calculator)

So how do you reduce your travel emissions?

Here are 3 practical sustainable travel tips that can really make a difference to your emissions totals, and to your bottom line!

1. Switch to economy

2. Travel a day ahead
3. Invest in climate projects


1. Switch to economy

We know that for many business travelers, switching from business class to economy class is a big ask. This is particularly true if you’re travelling for work and need the space to put the finishing touches on that presentation or get some rest before the big meeting. But there are not only cost benefits to traveling economy - saving you between US$ 1,800 - 3,000 on your airfare, but also you’ll be reducing your emissions by approximately 65%.  That’s not a small number if you’re looking to reduce your emissions across the whole company. 

2. Travel a day ahead

To compensate for traveling economy and to ensure you start your business trip feeling fresh, consider traveling one day earlier. This gives you time to recover from the flight, adjust to the new time zone, and de-stress. The average cost for a three to four star hotel room in, let's say, New York ranges from around US$ 250-350 per night, so it’s perfectly reasonable to use some of the savings from your air travel for a bit of bleisure

3. Invest in climate projects

Finally, use the savings from your trip to invest in climate action, or let Goodwings do this for you at no extra cost. When you’re considering which climate projects to invest in, the most important thing you can do is to ensure that you’re investing in high quality projects, because they’re not all on the same level. You can do this in a number of ways, but here are two impactful solutions that are particularly good for counterbalancing the effects of air travel: 

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
    Investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is a great option because it has 50-97% less net CO2 emissions than traditional jet fuel.  A US$ 85 investment in SAF is approximately the same as reducing 8-16% of the CO2 emissions from a Copenhagen to New York economy-class flight. Learn more about how Goodwings invests in Sustainable Aviation Fuel here.

  • Verified tree-planting projects
    When you’re looking at tree-planting projects, make sure that planting and growth are verified by qualified third parties and that they’re being planted in areas that were previously deforested (where trees were cut down) or places that never had trees in the first place. These two options are called "afforestation" and "reforestation" and they counteract the loss of forest coverage by making sure that there’s new tree growth instead of just “saving” existing forests (which is called “avoided deforestation”). As an example, if you invest US$ 85 in an afforestation or reforestation project, you could potentially store, over time, the same amount of CO2 that’s being used on an economy flight from Copenhagen to Singapore. Learn more about Goodwings' tree planting project in Uruguay here

How to get started:

  Reduce your emissions as part of your travel booking 

Booking an economy-class flight is easy, and if you’re doing it directly through the airline, you may be able to see the emissions from your round-trip booking. But getting an emissions total doesn’t solve the problem, because it leaves you with the task of reducing or offsetting your full-trip emissions yourself (not just the flight). While many airlines, including Lufthansa, SAS and United now give you the option to reduce or offset your emissions at checkout, you as the customer still need to pay for this, and the costs can really add up.

By using a travel management solution like Goodwings, you can:

  • Book all your travel in one place
  • Get your emissions automatically calculated and reduced as part of the booking
  • Collect all the data you need for Scope 3 reporting 
  • Invest in sustainable climate projects at no extra cost 

Choose more sustainable options when you're traveling  

Even though the extra day at your destination does lead to a slight increase in emissions for your trip, the emissions from your hotel stay and meals can still be reduced by choosing hotels and restaurants that are more sustainable than others.  One great tool for choosing the more sustainable option is to use TripDoodler, which you could say is like a sustainable Trust Pilot.

By using TripDoodler, you can:
  • Get transparent sustainability information about hotels and restaurants, but in a free and easy way
  • Get listings of thousands of hotels and restaurants and their sustainability certifications 
  • Independently rate the sustainability credentials of hotels and restaurants in real time

The bottom line:

Yes, business travel is often necessary, but there are simple ways of reducing your emissions, if you're willing to make small changes to the way you travel. There are also a number of useful tools that can help you get an overview of your travel emissions and help you reduce them at the same time. 



Ready to start reducing your travel emissions?

Speak to one of the Goodwings team today!

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