Most people travel to experience new parts of the world, but there’s a new emotion that comes with travel: flying shame. In Sweden, flygskam is causing huge drops in airline travelers in the last seven months. At the same time, Sweden’s trains are seeing record numbers of passengers. In Sweden and around the world, travelers are starting to boycott travel companies that do more harm to the environment than good.
As a whole, the tourism industry accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This staggering number includes everything from airplane pollution to cruise ship fuel and wasteful hotels using plastic toiletries and wasting water to wash linens and towels. Many hospitality companies have limited recycling or composting programs—if any at all. Airlines alone are the single largest source of carbon emissions for the last three years, with CO2 emissions by U.S. airlines increasing more than 3% in 2018.
Yet as travel continues to hurt the environment, travelers want to support sustainable companies, with 87% of global travelers saying they want to travel sustainably. In fact, two-thirds of travelers said they would pay more to ensure their travel was as environmentally friendly as possible.
A growing number of travel companies are taking a stand and working to reduce their carbon footprints. These initiatives and investments can have a huge impact on the environment and their bottom line and draw in customers looking to have a positive impact on the world.
These 50 companies are working to reduce their carbon footprints:
British Airways is committed to cutting its CO2 emissions in half by 2050 and building a plant that produces fuel from household waste, which could potentially release 60% less carbon than traditional jet fuel.
MGM Resorts International
MGM is partnering with an energy company to build a large solar farm near Las Vegas, which will produce enough renewable energy to power its 13 properties in the area. The solar panels should be active by the end of 2020.
One of the initiatives in Oceania’s Sail & Scale program is to eliminate millions of plastic water bottles by adding distillation systems to its ships. Soon, guests will each receive their own re-usable water bottle instead of getting disposable plastic bottles.
Since 2010, Amtrak has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 7% through energy-efficient upgrades and more eco-friendly trains. It also allows passengers to donate to renewable energy programs to offset their carbon footprints.
The hotel chain has already made great progress in cutting its carbon footprint to zero with its 21 Planet Program. Every new and renovated hotel is low-carbon emitting with unique eco-friendly practices like onsite organic gardens and eco-certified products.
Under the Kimpton Cares program, the chain finds ways to reduce its carbon footprint and encourage sustainability. Kimpton hotels use all-natural cleaning supplies and recycle soap and hygiene products for people in need. Its restaurants also serve locally sourced items and organic wines.
The entire design of each 1 Hotels location is built around sustainability, with organic and reused materials to keep the footprint as small as possible. Even its clothes hangers are made of recycled materials.
The popular coffee chain is working towards becoming completely straw-less by 2020 and has designed a straw-less lid for most cups. Starbucks has already rolled out the new cups throughout the U.S. and Canada and is expanding it to parts of Asia.
Celebrity Cruises’ ship Solstice has 216 solar panels, enough to power the ship’s entire LED light system. The ship also has a water filtration system that makes wastewater almost completely clean before it is dumped back into the ocean.
The innovative airline is partnering with manufacturers and tech companies to create a jet fuel that will create 50% less carbon than fossil fuels.
All Caesars Palace properties are Green Key Certified, and the hotel chain has plans to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% by 2020 and divert 60% of its waste from landfills by 2025.
The airline recently announced its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. It also plans to invest in sustainable fuel and fuel-efficient aircraft and get rid of single-use plastic stirring sticks.
Avis uses eco-friendly cars in its fleet and recycles as much from its rental cars as possible, including the motor oil, filters and parts. It also runs returned rental cars through car washes that recycle at least 80% of wastewater.
Hyatt has spent the last few years working on its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Strategy to reduce water use per guest night by 25%, increase recycling and follow enhanced sustainability practices for its new construction.
This all-inclusive resort company is both luxurious and sustainable. It runs onsite recycling, water conservation and electrical energy programs, plus on-site gardens and endangered species reproduction programs. It also remodeled all of its guest rooms with certified materials and a water recycling system, which cut CO2 emissions by 70%.
Even small practices at Royal Caribbean can make a big impact. The cruise line doesn’t offer disposable utensils and aims to purchase food with minimal packaging. It also turns off one of its ship’s engines for one month during the winter, which saves large amounts of energy.
In recent years, Holland America Cruises adopted a policy to not throw waste overboard and to run wastewater through two filtration systems before it goes back in the ocean. It also installed low-flow shower heads and started a program to encourage guests to re-use their towels.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport installed 300 electric ground support equipment charging stations around its terminals with plans to have one at every gate by 2021. The stations allow airlines to use electric vehicles to bring supplies and take care of their planes.
The airline has made large efforts to move towards renewable energy, including purchasing renewable energy to offset its emissions. All of the electricity purchased at its DFW headquarters now comes from renewable sources.
Each ship is equipped with a system to treat and process 100% of onboard waste, including recycling paper, plastic and glass in ports and composting food waste. Costa was the first cruise line to launch a ship powered by liquefied natural gas, the world’s cleanest fossil fuel.
JetBlue runs a large-scale carbon offset program that allows passengers to offset the emissions of their flight with donations. On its own, JetBlue has purchased offsets for more than 2 billion pounds of CO2, the largest amount of a U.S. commercial airline.
The rental car company has goals to reduce companywide paper 40% and cut greenhouse gas emissions 10% by 2020, plus continually make annual improvements on its energy and water use.
All Greyhound busses use clean-burning fuel, and the refurbished busses have features to increase the fuel economy. The most fuel-efficient busses in the fleet get the most drive time, and busses avoid idling to further cut carbon emissions.
Hilton recently began an aggressive program to cut its footprint in half by 2030. It also plans to double its social impact investments, including sourcing from local suppliers.
Element by Westin
Nearly every aspect of Element Hotels is designed around sustainability, from electric car chargers to clothing donation bins in the lobbies.
Air Canada is working towards lighter planes taking shorter flights using alternative fuels, which would greatly reduce the carbon emissions. It also recycles as much as possible, including reusing and donating old uniforms instead of throwing them away.
The Japanese airlines holds the title of the world’s most sustainable airline for its commitment to being carbon neutral. It is the first global airline to issue Green Bonds, which raise money for a number of green programs.
The luxury expedition company will launch a hybrid electric icebreaker ship in 2021 that will produce almost zero emissions. Other ships in the fleet use advanced sonar to track icebergs and slow and stop without dropping anchor and wasting energy.
The Hawaiian hotel chain is on a mission to educate guests about the environmental effects of certain types of sunscreen. It gives guests free eco-friendly sunscreen and has sunscreen dispensers at every hotel.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Guests used to automatically get a plastic straw in all drinks, but now Carnival passengers have to specifically ask for them. Carnival also met its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2020 three years early.
The ride-sharing service makes donations to offset the carbon pollution from its rides, meaning that any ride taken using Lyft is carbon neutral. In the first year, Lyft estimated offsetting over a million metric tons of carbon.
Alaska Airlines passengers can offset the carbon footprint of their flights by donating money or miles. Alaska also recently removed plastic straws from all of its flights and airport lounges—the first airline to do so.
Best Western installed electric vehicle charging stations at many of its hotels throughout the U.S. The hotels also use low-flow bathroom fixtures and a towel re-use program.
Uber is expanding beyond just cars with large carbon footprints. It plans to join the electric bikeshare movement by launching e-bike charging stations and donating to groups that encourage people to bike.
The African-based safari and hotel company is focused on sustainable programs, with recycling, water-saving and pollution reduction programs.
The popular on-the-go chain ended the use of foam packaging in 2018 and is committed to sourcing all of its packaging from renewal or recycled sources by 2025.
The rental car company runs a new carbon offset program that allows corporate customers to purchase carbon offsets that reduce the carbon footprints of their rental cars.
To give drivers real-time feedback and help them limit fuel consumption and carbon emissions, each double decker bus has a GreenRoad system. For the company’s 10th anniversary, Megabus planted 10,000 trees along its routes.
San Francisco International Airport has a goal to become the first airport to hit triple zero: zero carbon, waste and net energy. Its environmental efforts, including cutting natural gas use by 5% in the last three years, allows it to save more than $650,000 a year.
Dunkin’ will switch all of its coffee to paper cups by 2020, which will reduce nearly 1 billion foam cups a year that end up in landfills.
By starting the Linen Reuse Program that encourages guests to use the same towels throughout their stays, Marriott has cut its hot water and sewer costs by 17%, which also has a huge impact on the environment.
In an effort to fight climate change, Four Seasons celebrated its 50th anniversary by planting 10 million trees across 34 countries where it has hotels.
Boston Logan Airport
The airport’s newest terminal is designed to reflect heat from the building to lower energy costs and has low-flow bathroom fixtures to save water. It also installed wind turbines on one of its buildings, which creates 3% of the energy needed to run the airport.
The home-sharing service encourages hosts to be eco-friendly, and it pays off with customers. 88% of Airbnb hosts around the world incorporate green practices into their rental properties, ranging from composting to using eco-friendly cleaning products and providing bikes.
The company behind airport lounges around the country sources much of its food from local farmers. None of the lounges use plastic straws, and even the stirrers are made from all-natural bamboo.
Air France is continually working towards more efficient flight operations. It lowered the weight on its airplanes by using lightweight trolleys and switching to a reading app to eliminate nearly 390 tons of water paper a year and reduce CO2 emissions.
Delta Airlines recently announced it would remove the plastic wrap from its in-flight amenity kits, which will save nearly 14 tons of plastic from going to landfills.
Disney Cruise Lines
By reducing the weight on its ships, Disney Cruise Line is able to lower the demand on the ships’ engines and save fuel. It has other eco-friendly programs including energy-saving lighting.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Instead of dumping food waste, Norwegian Cruise Lines donates its used cooking oil to people in its port cities. It also uses an innovative water treatment system.
Denver International Airport
DIA boasts the largest solar farm at a U.S. commercial airport. Beyond recycling just paper and plastic, DIA also recycles 20 other materials, ranging from airplane deicing fluid to restaurant grease.
Travel has a huge impact on the environment, but these companies show that even small efforts can greatly help the environment and create sustainable customers.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new “The Customer Of The Future.” Stay in touch with her weekly on her newsletter.