Air Travel an Ecological Nightmare

Part of why I have been behind on my posts is I have been traveling. I witnessed some of the worst ecological nightmares and saw a few (a very few) great things.

We all know that air travel burns a ton gas. Here are some facts about it from Wikipedia:

  • In the EU greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 87% between 1990 and 2006
  • In addition to the CO2 released by most aircraft in flight through the burning of fuels such as Jet-A (turbine aircraft) or Avgas (piston aircraft), the aviation industry also contributes greenhouse gas emissions from ground airport vehicles and those used by passengers and staff to access airports, as well as through emissions generated by the production of energy used in airport buildings, the manufacture of aircraft and the construction of airport infrastructure.
  • While the principal greenhouse gas emission from powered aircraft in flight is CO2, other emissions may include nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, (together termed oxides of nitrogen or NOx), water vapour and particulates (soot and sulfate particles), sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide (which bonds with oxygen to become CO2 immediately upon release), incompletely-burned hydrocarbons, tetra-ethyl lead (piston aircraft only), and radicals such as hydroxyl, depending on the type of aircraft in use.
  • The contribution of civil aircraft-in-flight to global CO2 emissions has been estimated at around 2%.[6] However, in the case of high-altitude airliners which frequently fly near or in the stratosphere, non-CO2 altitude-sensitive effects may increase the total impact on anthropogenic (man-made) climate change significantly this problem is not present for aircraft that routinely operate at lower altitudes well inside the troposphere, such as balloons, airships, helicopters, most light aircraft, and many commuter aircraft

But there are other horrors…. while on my flight I generated more garbage than my husband and I do in two days.

FACT: 1 MILLION Plastic cups are used every 6 hours by airlines on flights in the US (just in the US!).

Between the plastic cups for every drink (god forbid they refill your cup), plastic fork/spoon/knife set (when have you ever needed a spoon on a flight?), the plastic container your horrible meal came in, and the plastic that was individually wrapping up every single item you were given. To be fair on my outbound flight they recycled and I thought it was fantastic and was ready to blog praises, but on my return flight and talking to fellow travelers I think I just had a Flight Attendant who might read this blog and have a personal commitment to doing good.

While I was at the hotel I was constantly offered plastic bottles of water. My room was filled with fantastic bath products in tiny plastic containers. I am no fool I get why this happens but we need to think of another way to provide those amenities. Also the hotel also had tons of unread papers every day.

Now for the praise… the hotel had individual towels in the public bathrooms for you to dry your hands off with. Granted it was a pretty classy place I thought that was fantastic. They also did the “green” thing of asking us to reuse our towel and not ask the maid the change our sheets. Our hallway outside our room had motion sensor lights so they were not on all time when they were not needed.

Lessons to be learned:

  • Airlines should try to think of ways to eliminate waste. In these days of charging per bag and for food they need to save money everywhere. Why not start with refilling cups (or just give us the chilled cans without the cup). Get corn or potato made “plastic ware.”
  • Recycle… it really is just that simple.
  • Hotels should have water coolers in various locations and guests can fill up water bottles or glasses. They are already washing dishes why not a few glasses… someone still has to clean of the abandon water bottles all over the hotel so I do not think that it is that hard to do.
  • More hotels should follow the lead with the little washable towels in the bathroom. Same scenario as above they are already doing laundry why not wash a few hand towels!
  • Motion sensor lights are a great idea for public places that are not used often.

I used more plastic this week than I would in an average month or two. We have become so dependant on plastic that it is hard to step back and see just how bad it is and that even if it is a little more inconvenient to stop using it is worth it.


One thought on “Air Travel an Ecological Nightmare

  1. howdy, I have been boycotting “disposable” plastic products for 18 months. Started cos I hated what it was doing to environmnet but as I find out more, worry about what it might be doing for me. I have sourced lots of plastic free alternatives for. You might find them useful. go to

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