By: Sandra Bayley
At Lola we pride ourselves on our wicked loving culture. That nurturing spirit extends well beyond our customers and company to our planet. Climate change is real. We’ve all seen pictures and read about rising sea levels, melting ice caps, wildfires and floods attributed to global warming. The United Nations calls climate change “the defining issue of our time”.
While business travel is hard enough as it is, and saving the planet may not be the first thing on your mind while on the road, here are a few little things you can do that could make a big difference for the planet and decrease your environmental impact.
It sounds funny for a travel company to suggest that we should fly less, but in fact, many business meetings can be done by video conference or phone. If a face-to-face meeting is a requirement, could you forgo a short haul flight and take a bus, train or car pool? When you do need to take to the skies for a business trip, non-stop flights will not only save you time but also reduce your carbon footprint since planes burn the most amount of fuel on take off.
Air travel releases a significant amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, flying makes up 12% of all U.S. transportation emissions. Airlines have taken notice and are starting to focus on more sustainable travel by purchasing fuel efficient aircraft and using different fuel mixes to fly more efficiently. But airlines aren’t the only ones who can help limit greenhouse gas emissions from air travel: You can help counteract your own flight-based carbon footprint by contributing to a carbon offset program. Essentially these programs allow you to balance the emissions generated from your flight by contributing a proportional dollar amount to an environmentally minded program. Many airlines, including JetBlue and Delta, have carbon emissions offset programs through partnerships with conservation projects. With flights booked through Lola, you can find the total miles flown at the bottom of the Dashboard page of Lola Manage. Use the carbon emissions calculator offered by United to compute your carbon footprint per flight or batch of miles and donate to an environmental project of your choice. Pick a program that’s registered as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization like the Wildlife Alliance or Gold Standard and you’ll be able use the donation as a tax deduction. It’s a win, win.
Especially single-use toiletries.Those little bottles are cute but imagine the waste. Some hotel brands have realized the toll these little bottles can take on the environment and are pledging to ban single-use plastics. Marriott, Hyatt, Holiday Inn and InterContinental Hotels will soon offer bulk dispensers in their bathrooms. In doing so, Marriott estimates it will save 500 million little plastic bottles a year and reduce it’s plastic waste by 30%. You can help support their sustainable efforts by bringing your own toiletries or by rewarding eco-friendly hotels with positive feedback and your loyalty.
Single-use plastic water bottles are another source of serious plastic waste, especially when traveling. Instead of drinking the bottled water in your hotel room, opt to bring a reusable water bottle with you on your business trip. Fill it up with tap water (which is safe to drink in most U.S. hotels), or seek out a water fountain wherever your meetings are held. Reusable water bottles are an easy way to be a more sustainable traveler.
You’ve probably seen the signs in hotel rooms encouraging you to reuse your towels and opt to keep your linens for more than a day. It does make a difference. The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that programs like this can reduce a hotel’s laundry loads and corresponding water/sewage and energy consumption by 17%.
Some hotels offer key card switches, smart climate controls and energy-efficient lighting but for those that have yet to adopt these energy saving measures, take a moment to turn off the lights when leaving the room. Turn down the heating or air conditioning. Unplug any electronics and maybe even the mini fridge that is humming through the night with nothing inside.
Opting for an economy sized car over the SUV is a great way to conserve. Alternatively Avis, Hertz and Budget all have the Toyota Prius in their fleet. If the boss will let you splurge, Enterprise, Alamo and Sixt offer the Tesla Model S as part of their Exotic Collection available in select cities across the US. If your meetings are in a city with good public transport, give it a shot. Using public transportation will make your trip more sustainable, make you feel like a local and save your company some cash.
If you feel that a company is being a good steward of the environment, show them some love. Your positive reviews will encourage them to do more and pave the way for others to follow suit.
If not, give them some constructive feedback: challenge them to learn about the environmental impact of travel, investigate their carbon footprint, and brainstorm more sustainable options for their current behavior. Reducing climate change is a group effort, and we must hold each other accountable.
At Lola.com we thrive on feedback and build our product around what our customers are asking for. If you have more environmentally friendly ideas, let us know how we can do out part.