The impact of flying ?
Every time we get into a car or plane, CO2 is emitted. CO2 is the best known greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. And this warming is a danger for all life on our planet. Ecosystems are getting out of balance (including insects needed for pollination of our food are dying out), there is a chance of extreme heat, flooding and famine. To name a few. Scientists sounded the alarm last October that we need to do much more to combat global warming.
So what exactly makes flying so polluting?
The fact that flying is so polluting has two main reasons:
- Exhaust gases at an altitude of 10 kilometers cause more negative damage than on the ground.
- The airplane makes it possible to travel to distant destinations that are difficult or impossible to reach via an alternative route. We make more miles and that means more negative impact on our planet.
One return ticket to Bali equals four years of driving (Babette Porcelijn)
An airplane emits on average 297 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer (source: co2emissionsfactors.nl). A car emits 220 grams of CO2 per vehicle per kilometer. Especially if you share a car with multiple passengers, the impact of a car is therefore less. Add to that the fact that the distances you travel by car are often shorter and you have your difference.
If I make a simplified calculation (I do not count the stopover in Brazil and pretend the plane picks me up and drops me off at the door), my trip to Argentina has a negative impact of 11,411 kilometers times 297 grams = 3,389 kilograms of CO2. And that's just the outward flight. Dios mío! It just makes me a little dizzy, because, taken globally, we emit an average of 3,400 kilos of CO2 per person per year.
With one flight I emit almost as much as 1 world citizen in a whole year.
Compensate the CO2 emissions of your flight
The only truly environmentally friendly option there is is not to fly. That is not an option for me - at the moment. So what is the next best alternative? Compensating for the CO2 emissions of your flight! This means that you "take away" CO2 somewhere else in the world. For example, you can plant trees or invest in cleaner cooking equipment or energy. This time I chose a personal and special project: bamboo planting in Uganda!
Planting bamboo against climate change - how does it work?
A few months ago I came into contact with Bamboo Village Uganda. I got to know the initiators and the ins and outs of this project because they were looking for help to build their website. Of course I wanted to contribute to such a beautiful project. And so I discovered that by planting bamboo in Uganda, you can offset your CO2 emissions.
Bamboo Village Uganda fights on the one hand against climate change by planting bamboo, and on the other hand against poverty in Uganda by building houses (made of bamboo of course) and the creation of honest jobs. Two birds with one stone! Better for the planet and better for people.
Bamboo is a natural "CO2 reservoir", like trees and the ocean. It forms a storage place where the CO2 emitted by our daily activities is collected and stored. The more bamboo, the less CO2 in our atmosphere.
Bamboo therefore filters CO2 from the air. It may not be where you emitted the CO2, but it does provide more balance to the overall picture.
Bamboo grows incredibly fast. There are species that grow up to 121 centimeters per day. Also, a bamboo plant can live up to 120 years, depending on the species. Maintenance costs are relatively low and a bamboo plant creates new shoots on its own. This makes bamboo a relatively affordable way to offset CO2.
How much bamboo should I plant?
In the context of "practice what you preach" I decided my flight from the Netherlands to Argentina to compensate through Bamboo Village Uganda. The outward flight that is. For the return flight I will look for another initiative. I like to support as many different projects as possible and moreover it gives me the opportunity to investigate the differences.
Compensating starts with a small calculation. How much bamboo do I have to plant to compensate for the more than 10,000 kilometers I travelled by plane?
With 1 square meter of bamboo you can offset 267.2 kilograms of CO2, according to the initiators of Bamboo Village Uganda.
I need 3,389 / 267.2 = 12.68 square meters of bamboo to offset the CO2 emissions of my flight to Argentina.
Round it up and you arrive at 13 square meters. That costs €69.42 at Bamboo Village Uganda. With this amount Bamboo Village Uganda provides the planting and maintenance of bamboo and build houses for the inhabitants of the village. Incidentally, you also have the option of doubling or even tripling your contribution, in order to accelerate the construction of houses and generate even more employment and training opportunities. I chose this time only for the option CO2 compensation, financially that is currently the most feasible option for me.
How do I buy the bamboo?
Offsetting is very simple. Through this page I put 13 (virtual) square meters in my shopping cart. After checkout, I received a super cute digital certificate as proof of my contribution.
While the best step to a lower footprint is still LESS, I'm glad that projects like Bamboo Village Uganda offer the opportunity to offset that piece you can't (or won't) reduce.
Have you ever offset the carbon emissions from your travels? Let me know in the comments below this post!