Sustainable Business Travel

What is sustainable travel?

Ecotourism, green travel, responsible travel, or sustainable travel - whatever you call it do you even know what it is?

Green travel, ecotourism, or sustainable travel - none of it is possible without a certain amount of responsibility from the traveller. After all, sitting down and breathing out isn’t sustainable, and that’s before you’ve even switched on the TV, or shoved a plastic box of beef lasagne in the microwave.

So, then what is responsible travel? In essence, it’s ways to reduce the environmental impact of travelling by employing methods of getting from A to B without leaving a great big Dr Marten-sized footprint in the melting ice sheets of Greenland. Like walking or cycling.

All well and good, but not so handy if you’re planning on getting to Ko Samui sustainably before the rainy season.

So, how about offsetting your carbon footprint?

According to an article published earlier this year in The Scotsman newspaper, a person would need to plant 19 trees to cover the damage caused by flying on a 19,956 km round trip to the Ko Samui but it doesn’t say at which point the trees would be mature enough to counter my two weeks on Bang Po beach sucking back Chang.


Beach resort in Thailand

And there is no word on the environmental consequences of my physically being on holiday. Take air conditioning, for example, a given when you’re in a hot country, but these things have the environmental sensibilities of a blazing tyre factory.

In addition to high levels of energy consumption when in use, air conditioners belt out ozone-depleting CFCs and HFCs, and that’s before we’ve even talked about getting to and from the airport at either end.

For now, the only way to travel responsibly is to not do it, or encourage people to share the environmental consequences of the journey. Take the average car. It doesn’t matter if one or four people are pootling down the street to the shops, the car will produce the same amount of pollution. Apply the same logic to a bus and you quickly understand why communal transportation is the sustainable way to go.

It’s a bit more complex in terms of aviation, but the basic principles of sharing the environmental cost remain in place. Before that, though, don’t fly at all unless you can responsibly justify why you’re contributing 285g of CO2 per kilometre, especially when a like for like contribution on a train is 14g.

Flying should be a necessity. I’d argue that most business travel isn’t a necessity when there are a variety of ways we can communicate without having to get a taxi at 3 am for the red-eye to New York to see Bob in risk analysis. And you can’t justify first or business class at all.

Travelling sustainably (or responsibly) isn’t just being aware of the harm caused by unnecessary travel, it should form part of a daily routine in wasting less and recycling more.

And not just for oneself but for those that couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about environmental issues, like the special section of society that goes on cruises. One of those behemoth boats can emit as much particulate matter in a day as a million cars.

You’re probably not going to get many reforesting initiatives from any of these folks, so instead of apportioning blame and giving them the side, we call do our bit and help to cover the wastage caused by those who all but abuse their time on earth.

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