With every cruise ship and airline shouting about their sustainability credentials, it can be hard to sift through the greenwashing. But if you’re looking for a low-carbon adventure, these online tools are here to help.
It’s certainly an interesting time for conscious travel. According to the latest numbers from Google, which, incidentally, helped launch 12,529,953 metric tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere in 2019, the number of people searching for ‘sustainable travel’ jumped 70 per cent in 2021. 82 per cent of travelers even said sustainability was more front-of-mind than the pandemic.
Unfortunately, Google’s data also revealed that 37 per cent of us don’t know how to make our adventures more environmentally friendly. Luckily, there are a bunch of online tools available now to help you quickly sift through the corporate greenwashing. These are some of our favourites.
In October 2021, Google added carbon emissions to its Maps and Flights apps. Every time you plug in a journey, or search for specific flights, Google helpfully shows you the carbon emissions for that trip. Providers with lower impact are given a little green badge, to make identification easy. For flights, Google even compares each airline’s emissions against the average for that particular route, helping you make an informed decision.
There are other carbon calculators out there, too, if Google isn’t your thing. MyClimate and CarbonFootprint offer more or less the same service, and sustainabletravel.org has released their own (excellent) carbon calculator.
If you’re looking for sustainable accommodation, Staze allows you to filter millions of hotel providers by their carbon footprint—handy for last-minute bookings. The site also invests in vetted carbon offset programs, and promises to double offset your emissions for each stay. Users even get monthly reports, showing which projects their trips have supported.
It’s easy to check if your booking platform is carbon neutral, too. Organizations like Booking.com are pretty transparent with their sustainability objectives these days. If your booking site isn’t carbon neutral, doesn’t have an offset program, or doesn’t let you filter by footprint, shop elsewhere. There are plenty of options online.
If you’re booking your trip through a travel agency, it’s a good idea to find one that’s done the vetting for you. Companies like Responsible Travel have turned this into their entire business model – these guys only work with suppliers and operators who meet certain sustainability benchmarks. Most agencies are getting better at this stuff, but it still pays to ask questions and shop around. If your travel agent can’t give you any information on sustainability, find one who can.
Some booking operators are moving away from carbon-heavy flights all together. ByWay is a great example. They’re a B-Corp (tick) and they specialize in slow travel adventures (tick tick). Want to cross Europe on foot? Or on a bike? Or via public transport? Want to stay in low-emission hotels along the way? ByWay has done all the hard work for you. You can create your own low-carbon itinerary or join a pre-existing one, and the site even suggests responsible activities in each destination along the way.
Sustainable cruises are very hard to find. Some would say those two words don’t really belong next to each other. But if you’d like to quickly check the eco-credentials of your cruise line, Friends of the Earth releases an annual cruising report card, where they rank each of the big providers against metrics like sewage treatment, air pollution reduction and water quality compliance. It’s a good snapshot to check if you’re sailing with the right company.