There are plenty of eco-friendly initiatives being implemented airlines, hotels and car hire companies that can help you do the right thing by the planet.
Some of the most notable steps forward in environmentally friendly travel have come from airlines keen to promote their green credentials and save money on fuel cost.
In New Zealand, Air New Zealand has gone paperless at domestic gates, as well as introducing the Dreamliner which is quieter, cleaner and delivers better life cycle fuel burn performance than other engines meaning it uses 20% less fuel than similar aircraft.
In Australia, Qantas is now investing heavily in more fuel-efficient aeroplanes, while Virgin boss Richard Branson has offered a $25 million prize to anyone who can create a complete greenhouse gas removal system for jet aircraft, a vast improvement on the voluntary carbon offset system that most commercial airlines currently have in place as part of their booking procedures.
In Singapore, Singapore Airlines has committed to significantly enhancing sustainability practices in its in-flight food and beverage offerings. Under the new initiative, a “From Farm to Plane” concept will be introduced to promote environmental sustainability and support local farmers’ communities.
In the USA, JetBlue has purchased 33 million gallons of biofuel, to be used in its aircraft from 2019, while Southwest Airlines now recycles all of its cabin waste.
Another sector of the industry making large strides in terms of sustainability is hotels. The Hilton Hotel Group's Light Stay programme resulted in a 20 per cent reduction in energy use and a 10 per cent reduction in water use between the years 2008 and 2013. That programme was a terrific success, with many Hilton hotels exceeding their targets.
Another of the big guns in the accommodation sector, Accor, introduced its Planet 21 initiative in 2012. Since the programme’s implementation, 99 per cent of Accor properties have switched to eco-friendly cleaning products and all hotels have achieved significant reductions in water and energy usage.
In New Zealand, Sudima Christchurch Airport has recently become the second hotel to achieve a CarboNZero certification, following in the footsteps of its sister hotel Sudima Auckland Airport, which achieved the certification four years ago. To achieve this, the hotel had to measure its greenhouse gas emissions, manage and reduce emissions, as well as neutralise any remaining unavoidable emissions.
Car hire companies have also entered the fray. Hertz has launched its Green Traveller Collection, a choice of hybrid cars including the Ford Fusion SE Hybrid and Toyota Prius Hybrid available for hire. Avis gives you a choice of green car rental, whether you are looking for a Nissan Altima Hybrid or Ford Escape Hybrid. One-fourth of their entire fleet is EPA rated at 30 mpg or better. And Europcar offers the all new fully electric Volkswagen e-Golf.
As a more modern alternative, the car-sharing company Eveeh is specialising in providing access to electric Tesla vehicles within Australia, while in the US, France and Denmark, you’ll find companies such as Autolib, DriveNow and Carma that facilitate ride-sharing for those who want to use electric cars.