Have you ever wondered what type of impact your business air travel is leaving on the environment? If you have, then you've probably heard about your carbon footprint and how each time you fly, you increase the carbon emission that's released into the atmosphere. It's disheartening to know that the most efficient way to travel, is damaging to the environment.

Even if you don't travel by plane, there are other things you can do to lessen the impact. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint you leave on the world. Here are a few tips to take into consideration the next time you travel for business or pleasure.

1. Look for alternatives to flying.

The most obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint is to fly less. Consider taking a bus or train to get to your destination. If you have a business trip a few hours away, taking a bus that uses renewable energy can drastically diminish CO2 emissions.

However, if your trip requires you to travel a few states over, take a train. Not only do you get to relax and enjoy the view before you reach your destination, some offer you the option to offset your carbon footprint.

2. Take direct routes.

Taking alternative forms of transportation to reach your destination isn't always possible. To lessen your impact on the environment while still being mindful of your traveling, take the most direct routes to your destination.

Planes release the most carbon during takeoff and landing. Instead of taking the cheaper flight with one or two stops, opt for a nonstop. If you're flying internationally, search for the flight with the least amount of stops.  

3. Fly economy.

First and business class takes up more space per seat which means it's more fuel per passenger. Although you might not want to, it's more fuel efficient to fly in economy class. You can always use the perks like lounge access or TSA PreCheck from your travel credit card to upgrade other aspects of your travel.

4. Pack light.

If you were going camping and your backpack weighed twice as much as you, you'll have to exert more force to get to your camping site. On the other hand, if you were carrying a lightweight backpack, you'll hardly use any energy to get there.

The same applies to an airplane. When it has to carry heavy luggage, it uses more fuel. Depending on how long your business trip is, you might only need a carry-on. If you do need a checked bag, then pack only your necessities.

5. Offset your carbon footprint.

Offsetting the CO2 you emitted during your travels doesn't reduce your carbon footprint. However, offsetting it does give back to the environment.

The most common way that travelers offset their carbon footprint is by planting a tree through offsetting programs. Airlines such as Delta, United, and JetBlue participate in these type of programs. Some of their projects involve protecting and managing forest lands, developing clean energy, and turning landfill waste to energy.

6. Avoid food and water waste.

If anyone knows me, they know that I'm not a big fan of buying a new bottle of water each time I'm thirsty. I love to carry my own BPA-free reusable water bottle wherever I go if it's safe to drink the tap water. If the water isn't safe to drink, I recycle the water bottles I do use.  

I also try to find food that doesn't use as much waste. Bring your own shopping bags and cook healthy meals when you can. 

7. Book eco-friendly hotels.

Hotels use massive amounts of energy from lighting to laundry. To reduce their carbon footprint, many hotels are becoming more energy-efficient and therefore eco-friendly. Some measures that hotels have taken are LED lights and high-efficiency thermal insulation. You'll also find that an eco-friendly hotel has lower water consumption than a regular hotel.

You may be surprised to find that big chain hotels are becoming more sustainable. If there isn't an eco-friendly hotel near your destination, then do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint while at a regular one, or maybe consider an Airbnb.

When I'm staying at a hotel, I practice eco-friendly habits by limiting how many towels I use and how often I need my sheets washed. You can also only use lights in your hotel room when absolutely necessary, otherwise, unplug everything that's not in use.

8. Consider having a virtual meeting.

I love flying as much as the next frequent-flyer, but even I know when it's a more practical use of my time to stay home. Hold your business meeting over a video conference if you can. As nice as it is to have a meeting face to face, sometimes an alternative will have to suffice. 

Published on: Feb 27, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.