Travelling for business? Three simple ways you can make it more sustainable

Business, CSR | Thu 26 Sep | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Cathy Burke, Travel Counsellors Ireland.

Cathy Burke, General Manager at Travel Counsellors Ireland, on how to make business travel more sustainable.

For many, business travel is a necessity. Living in Ireland, and being an island nation, means flying for business meetings is inevitable. I’m conscious of my own carbon footprint and try to make considered decisions so my trips are as environmentally-friendly as possible. 

In fact, according to our recent RED C survey at Travel Counsellors, over half of Irish people said they don’t consider sustainability when choosing to travel abroad, with 47% of people saying it is because they don’t fully understand what sustainable travel is. However, for our clients, and indeed ourselves at Travel Counsellors, being sustainable and consciously aware of the impact on the environment when travelling is always front of mind.

Being environmentally conscious while travelling doesn’t have to be a complicated feat. Here are some simple steps for your next business trip. 

Choose a Greener Trip 

I travel often for work, between short-haul trips to the UK and Europe, as well as long-haul trips to Australia, Dubai and South Africa. Aircraft manufacturers and most of the major airlines are now doing their part to be more sustainable. For instance, when flying business class, many airlines offer sustainably conscious kits with wooden combs, toothbrushes and other alternative options to plastic when in-flight. 

Hotels are doing their part as well. Nowadays, you can choose to stay in environmentally friendly, or “Green”, hotels. The ethos of these certified hotels is based on environmentally friendly factors such as lowering water and waste consumption as well as providing income earning opportunities for local people in the area. Green hotels are becoming more popular and affordable and are ideal for staying at when abroad on a business trip. Ask your travel provider for advice and plan to stay at the most eco-friendly accommodation you can find, supporting sustainability and the local community.

Plan before you go

A quarter of respondents in our RED C survey said one of the main barriers preventing people to consider sustainable travel was that it is too expensive, but this really is not the case. To be more sustainably conscious on your next business trip, all it takes is some pre-planning. Take something as simple as transportation in your new destination. Before you arrive, plan your itinerary and find out the best way to get from the airport to your hotel, from your hotel to your meeting, etc. Choosing public transport – buses, trams, or the underground – might be more time-effective and environmentally-friendly than taking a private taxi.

If you do opt for private car hire, see if you can car-share with your colleagues. Scheduling a travel time with your co-workers will help reduce the environmental impact of the taxi journey.

Carry a reusable water bottle or a keep-cup

Keep it simple – having your own reusable water bottle in the airport will help you avoid buying single use plastic. I always bring my water bottle with me, as once through security, many airports have water filling-stations. Similarly with a keep-cup, these everyday simple accessories are an effective step toward lowering unnecessary waste and building a more environmentally-friendly world. You are probably making use of these accessories at home, so why not take them with you on your business trip. 

About the author:

Cathy Burke is Global Director of International Business Development at Travel Counsellors and General Manager at Travel Counsellors Ireland. She established the Irish Travel Counsellors operation in 2005 and has since built a business that supports 78 highly-motivated, self-employed travel agents delivering bespoke travel experiences to both the leisure and corporate markets. This year, Travel Counsellors launched Go Greener, its online sustainable tourism accreditation in collaboration with global charity, the Travel Foundation. If you would like more information on planning a more sustainable business trip ask your Travel Counsellor, or visit: www.travelcounsellors.ie.