My Approach to Offsetting My Airline Carbon Footprint

Determined to lower my carbon footprint by buying carbon offsets, I set out to determine the best options and tools. I have decided to focus on flights since I travel for work and airlines travel is by far the biggest contributor to my negative impact on climate change. The steps I set out to master include

  • How to track my CO2e impact
  • Options and steps to buy carbon offsets

The vast majority of my flights are with American Airlines and JetBlue. I figured best to start there and explore what carbon offset programs they have in place and how they actually work. Do you buy the offsets when you book the ticket? When you check in? Can you buy them on the flight? Turns out with JetBlue, you buy them as a separate process through their partnership with Carbonfund.org. Although it does not seem any of their employees know about the program. You simply buy offsets based on expected miles, for example 3000 miles costs $6, etc. Unfortunately, American Airlines does not have an offset program. While this is disappointing from a corporate responsibility standpoint, it does preclude buying offsets.

I want to track more accurately the actual CO2e output from my flights, as a regular reminder to think about reducing flights rather than simply offsetting. There are a number of carbon footprint tracking applications (which I will review in a future post) Luckily, I learned that TripIt had added the ability to track your carbon footprint on flights.

I love TripIt, and already use it to keep track on my travel itinerary. So now I can easily see on each flight what CO2e impact I am having. Since buying carbon offsets for each flight is not integrated into booking, or available on each airline, I decided to buy offsets once a month based on the miles flown. In January, I flew 4908 mile resulting in 1.21 tCO2e of carbon output. I purchased 10,000 miles of offsets from Carbonfund.org. There are many options on where to buy offsets. I also looked at Terrapass.com, and Cool Effect. I hope TripIt adds the ability to purchase offsets.

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