Business travel is an essential part of the corporate world. Employees travel across cities and countries for various reasons, including meetings, conferences, training and networking events.
However, these trips often come with a significant environmental impact. In recent years, sustainable business travel has emerged as an important concept, advocating for practices that minimise the impact of business travel on the environment.
Let’s explore the concept of sustainable corporate travel, its benefits and practical ways to travel for business more sustainably.
What is sustainable business travel?
Sustainable business travel is an approach that advocates for practices that minimise the impact of business travel on the environment. It involves adopting sustainable habits throughout the travel cycle, from planning and booking to transportation and accommodation. Some of these responsible habits include packing light, thorough planning and choosing sustainable activities.
The importance of sustainable business travel cannot be overemphasised, as this type of travel is a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. By adopting the sustainable practices listed below, you can reduce your business’ carbon footprint and contribute to mitigating climate change.
How to travel for business more sustainably
Travelling for business can be done in a more sustainable way by adopting the right habits. Below are some practical tips for travelling for business more sustainably:
1. Plan ahead
Planning is an essential aspect of sustainable travel. It helps you identify opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of your trip.
Consider factors such as the distance to the destination, the transportation options available and the type of accommodations used.
Planning an itinerary well in advance helps reduce unnecessary travel and avoid decisions that may be less environmentally friendly.
Also, take into account adding a sustainability clause in your travel policy.
2. Pack light
The weight of luggage contributes to the carbon emissions of any trip. Packing light reduces the weight of luggage and, in turn, the carbon emissions.
Encourage the use of a packing list to ensure that the traveller only packs what’s needed. Additionally, consider approving only a carry-on bag instead of a large checked-in bag for a shorter corporate trip, as it's lighter and more convenient.
3. Choose more sustainable transportation options
Consider using public transportation or carpooling additionally to renting an electric car. Public transportation such as buses, trains and subways produce fewer emissions than rental cars.
Similarly, sharing a ride with other travellers reduces the number of cars on the road and minimises emissions. If renting a car is necessary, choose a hybrid or electric vehicle.
4. Choose sustainable accommodations
Consider hotels that use renewable energy, have energy-efficient lighting and use water-saving technologies.
On the Booking.com platform, you can find accommodations with a Travel Sustainable label. This is to signal that these properties took the necessary steps to implement responsible environmental practices.
5. Offset your carbon emissions
Carbon offsetting involves supporting projects that reduce or remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere. You can offset carbon emissions by contributing to projects that promote renewable energy, reforestation or energy-efficient technologies.
Many airlines and travel companies offer carbon offset programmes that allow travellers to offset the carbon emissions of their trips. There are several third-party organisations specialising in carbon offsetting, such as Carbonfund.org and TerraPass.
6. Choose sustainable activities
When planning business trips, choose sustainable activities that support local communities and minimise environmental impact.
For example, your business could organise a volunteer event or team-building activity that supports local nonprofits or environmental organisations. Additionally, you could choose sustainability tours or activities that promote sustainable tourism, such as hiking, biking or kayaking.
7. Implement responsible day-to-day practices
In addition to adopting sustainable travel practices, you can also embrace sustainable habits in your day-to-day operations. This can include reducing paper waste by using digital documents and implementing recycling programmes.
You can also reduce their environmental impact through energy-efficient equipment and appliances, such as Energy Star-certified computers and monitors.
By embracing sustainable practices in all aspects of your operations, you can promote your leadership in improving sustainable travel and reduce your businesses’ carbon footprint.
8. Measure and track environmental impact
To effectively reduce the environmental impact of business travel, you should measure and track your carbon emissions and environmental impact. This can help you identify areas where you can improve your sustainability practices and set targets for reducing your environmental impact.
There are many carbon footprint calculators that allow businesses to calculate the carbon emissions produced by their business travel. Additionally, you can work with third-party sustainability consultants to measure and track your environmental impact and develop sustainability strategies.
By measuring and tracking your environmental impact, you can make informed decisions about your sustainability practices and demonstrate your commitment to the environment to stakeholders.
Benefits of sustainable business travel
Aside from the environmental benefits, sustainable business travel has several advantages, such as:
- It’s cost-saving: sustainable travel practices, such as renting an electric car, can save you travelling expenses. Similarly, choosing sustainable accommodations that also offer free or discounted services such as shuttle services, bike rentals or discounted electric car rentals can significantly lower costs.
- Increased employee satisfaction: sustainable travel practices can contribute to employee satisfaction by reducing stress levels and promoting healthy lifestyles. Employees will appreciate that you value their well-being and the environment. The simple act of promoting sustainable business travel can boost morale and increase productivity.
- Improved corporate social responsibility: if you adopt sustainable travel practices, it’ll demonstrate your commitment to preserving the environment, a critical aspect of corporate social responsibility. Companies that show concern for the environment can also improve their brand image and attract sustainability-minded customers and employees.
Sustainable business travel is a crucial aspect of corporate social responsibility. Sustainable travel practices benefit both the environment and your business by reducing costs, promoting employee satisfaction and demonstrating a leadership in preserving the environment