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10 ways you can reduce waste on your next flight

Parisa Pouramn

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Reducing waste on your flight

Okay, so I’m not going to sugarcoat it – there’s no denying that flying is a major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Just one seat on one flight from London to New York produces more carbon than the average person in one year. 

For me, it’s something I struggle with. I’m the founder of Banish, an Australian initiative that focuses on helping people reduce their ecological footprint, and in order to run my company, I need to fly multiple times a year. The same goes for so many of us – flying is a necessary part of our lives. And while we can’t always avoid it, we can make more conscious and responsible decisions when we’re at the airport and while we’re in the air. 

Want to start making a difference? Here are my tips and tricks for making your journey a little bit more sustainable… 

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Before you get to the airport

1. Compare flight emissions

Flying is responsible for 2.5% of the world’s carbon dioxide production and nowadays airlines indicate the carbon emissions of each flight option based on a number of factors, so you can compare and choose the flight with the lowest emissions.

Top tip: a direct flight will have a smaller carbon footprint because take-off and landing are the most fuel-intensive portions of the flight. So, skip the layover if you can!

Contiki travellers together at the airport

Image source:Contiki

2. Check-in online

Yes, your boarding pass is the perfect subject for that obligatory Instagram post but it won’t get any likes from the environment. The shiny coating on boarding passes makes it harder to break down with most boarding passes getting a hard pass from recycling bins. Check-in online to skip the queues and the waste. 

3. Get organised

Before you jet off, make sure you’ve packed your eco-essentials. For all flights I bring a reusable coffee cup, water bottle, set of cutlery (minus the knife) and a produce bag. Refillable travel-sized toiletry bottles are great, and if you’re flying overnight, don’t forget your bamboo toothbrush so you can say no to the in-flight cleaning kit that’s wrapped in plastic. And, try to pack smart – lighter luggage means less fuel emissions.

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At the airport

4. Refills

Before you get on the plane refill your water bottle and once you’re on board don’t be afraid to ask the cabin crew to fill up your bottle. Just maybe wait until after the drinks service or you won’t make friends with your neighbours.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lottie Dalziel @ Banish (

5. Use your own

If you’re grabbing a snack or a coffee at the airport put the same principles in place as when you’re out and about! If you don’t have your reusable coffee cup, dine-in and enjoy your brew and the view. 

On the plane

6. Plastic-free drinks

When the drinks trolley comes around, use your reusable coffee cup (I can attest that red wine tastes better in a reusable). At first, I got a few funny looks but now it is becoming much more normal – a flight attendant even high-fived me the other day #truestory. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lottie Dalziel @ Banish (

7. Say no to napkins

If you do opt for a sweet treat or meal on board, say no to the napkin. Every little bit counts. Or go old school with a hankie. 

8. Bring your own snacks

If you’re a whole next level of organised, BYO food onto your flight. It’s a great way to save money on budget airlines and it means you get to choose your own menu! 

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9. Use your own headphones

There’s nothing better than settling in for a long-haul flight and bingeing on a movie or two. Bring your own headphones to save on the plastic packaging and the chemical cleaning that’s involved with using the airline’s own. 

10. Opt for vegetarian or vegan options

If you’re on an international flight and being fed on your journey why not try the vegetarian or vegan option? Cutting out meat and/or dairy, even if it is just for a meal here or there, can help reduce your carbon footprint. Plus you’ll usually be one of the first to be served, so it’s a win-win. 

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