As we approach Sustainability Day, Oct. 25, you may be thinking about how you can begin to set sustainability goals for the rest of the year and beyond — and then how to stick to those goals.
Luckily, if you’re specifically trying to set sustainability goals related to your business travel, there are easy changes you can employ to make your business trips greener.
While making business travel more sustainable may seem like a big, lofty goal that’s out of your control as a singular employee, it’s actually not as difficult as it seems. Many small and mid-size enterprises can take efforts to make their business travel more sustainable, and yes, even on an individual level, you as a Traveler can make each and every one of your trips greener, no matter your company or organization’s specific travel policies.
The key to actually following through on your set sustainability goals?
Setting sustainability goals that are achievable given your resources and job. Don’t set sustainability goals that conflict with your role or organization’s practices. For example, if you manage your organization’s operations throughout a very large region of the world, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cut back on flying often to oversee those organizations. Likewise, if you know your organization frequently does business in cities where public transit isn’t plentiful, don’t set sustainability goals that require you to always take public transit during business trips.
With that in mind, consider these seven sustainability goals that are easily achievable for most Travelers and see which you might want to adopt for your upcoming business trips.
Gone are the days of printing all your travel documents the night before a big trip. No more do you need to print directions to the next stop on your itinerary. If you haven’t yet, go fully digital when it comes to all of your travel documentation.
Your company’s Travel Manager or Travel Management Company may provide an app or similar resource that compiles all your travel and itinerary details in one place, digitally. If so, take advantage of these resources.
Otherwise, keep your itinerary handy and at the ready on your favorite device. Download your airline’s app for easy, paperless check-in in and boarding. Do the same with your chosen hotel. It’s a simple and easy step to make your next trip a little greener.
If you, as a Traveler, get a choice in your hotel, pick a property that boasts certifications related to sustainability and efforts to become more eco-friendly.
However, even if you don’t get a choice of hotel and a Travel Manager books that part of your trip for you, you can still set sustainability goals related to your hotel stays. For example, make individual choices at each hotel you stay at, choices that can all add up in a big way. Decline daily cleaning in your hotel room to reduce water waste. Reuse your towels. If the hotel offers it, don’t use the bottled water and instead pack your own reusable and refillable water bottle. When you go out for the day, ensure all lights, the television, etc., are off.
The paper and plastic packaging around the snacks you purchase at the airport or during your flight. The straws from the endless drinks you purchased at the conference. The plastic cutlery that came with the take-out that you picked up on the way to the hotel so you could eat in your room and get some extra work done. It all adds up.
If you want to set sustainability goals related to unnecessary plastic and paper use, think about all these ways your dining and drinking throughout a business trip negatively impact the planet. You can easily negate many of these impacts by simply packing a reusable water bottle, straw, and cutlery. You may also choose to pack your own (airline-approved) snacks for the plane in reusable containers.
These items are lightweight and will stow away quickly in your purse or briefcase.
On the note of packing, pack as lightly as possible. It’s a simple equation. The more you pack, the more fuel an aircraft needs in order to get you from Point A to Point B. While a carry-on is not suitable for all business trips, when it is, choose to travel with just what you need, no extras.
Skip the In-Room Toiletries
While many hotels have now removed miniature, plastic-packed toiletries from their guest rooms, that’s not the case everywhere. Cut down on how many of these half-used tiny shampoo and conditioner bottles end up in the trash by packing your own toiletries in reusable, airline-approved containers that you can refill and reuse for every single trip.
Think About How You Get Around
Once in your destination, you may have more flexibility as to how you get around. If so, opt for the greenest choice possible. Even if there aren’t many public transportation options in a destination, there may still be ways to make your travel greener.
Can you rent a bike and cycle to your meeting (many hotels rent bicycles to guests for free)? Can you carpool with your coworkers who may also be traveling so you don’t all take different rideshare services or all rent separate rental vehicles? (And if you do book a rental car, did you ask about electric options?)
During your business trip, consider supporting local businesses as much as possible, particularly restaurants. When you choose local restaurants that partner with local farms and producers, you reduce the carbon footprint of each of your meals.
Set Sustainability Goals This Sustainability Day, Oct. 25
Even as an individual Traveler without much influence on your company’s travel policies or travel management system, you can still set sustainability goals that make an impact. Consider how each and every choice you make during a business trip impacts the planet and you’ll be well on your way to greener business travel.