Note: This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Joel Ostrov, President of Direct Travel’s Canada’s East Region. We’ve republished these thoughts below as part of Direct Travel’s ‘Whatever It Takes’ series.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have heard various reports about the way the environment has changed, from decreased air pollution in major cities to stories of popular tourist hubs emptied of crowds. In fact, as a result of the reduced travel, the International Energy Agency predicts that greenhouse gas emissions will fall by more than 8 percent this year alone.
As borders reopen and travel around the world resumes, we have a unique opportunity to rethink how we travel. Not only in terms of sanitation and safety changes but also in terms of the impact travel has on our global environment.
This topic of sustainability means a lot to me personally. My first experience with sustainability came when I was just 13, and my grandparents planted a plot of trees in Israel through the Jewish National Fund in honor of my Bar Mitzvah. If you’ve ever been to Israel, you’ve seen what a lush and green place it is. Compare that to the often dry and brown terrain of other similarly located countries, and the impact of reforestation is clear.
This experience shaped my views on sustainability, but before I share more about the steps you can take to make your corporate travel program more green, let’s first acknowledge that your priority right now is likely figuring out how and when you can safely get your travellers back on the road. At Direct Travel, we understand this need and have compiled resources to help you steer your program on track, including our Back to Business Travel Workbook and our Traveller Checklist.
This focus on the immediate now is understandable and important, but if the current crisis is any indicator, we should all be preparing for the future—particularly where the safety and health of our planet is concerned.
So how can you ramp your business travel back up during the ongoing recovery stage and still reduce your carbon footprint? These steps form the pathway towards an environmentally sustainable travel program:
- Determine the total emissions of your travellers and quantify the corresponding consumption of natural resources.
- Establish sustainability benchmarks based on industry best practices and stakeholder expectations.
- Counter your emissions through projects of equal carbon-reducing importance such as reforestation, forest conservation, renewable energy investments, and energy efficient community projects.
- Communicate the results to your stakeholders and engage them in your efforts.
At Direct Travel, we have formed a partnership with South Pole to offset our collective carbon footprint—both for our team and our clients. For every trip taken, an environmental project will be undertaken to contribute to long-term sustainability.
If an investment like that doesn’t make sense for your company right now, I encourage you to take a page out of my grandparent’s playbook and plant a tree or commit to a similar, small act of sustainability. A little greenery can go a long way to making our Earth a clean and thriving place. Remember: We’re all in this together—Whatever It Takes.