Today, we celebrate World Environment Day – the biggest annual event for positive environmental action. It’s a day for everyone, everywhere, to reflect on their impact and celebrate the steps we can take together, and as individuals, to make change.
As an airline, we don’t shy away from the fact our business has an impact on the environment – which is why we developed our Change is in the Air sustainability programme.
Carbon emissions from aircraft fuel use account for more than 99% of our direct carbon emissions, so for us, carbon reduction is our number one environmental priority. Through measures such as our multi-billion pound fleet upgrade, as well as a host of improved operational procedures, we’ve seen significant improvements in our carbon emissions in recent years. And since we started measuring in 2007, our total aircraft emissions have reduced by 24%, with a 2.5% reduction in between 2016 and 2017.
We’re excited to be looking to the future for aviation fuels too. Since 2011, we’ve been working with LanzaTech, helping them in their quest to make a groundbreaking new low carbon jet fuel by recycling carbon from waste industrial gases. We’re making significant progress together, and are getting ever closer to our first commercial flight using LanzaTech’s new fuel. Watch this space!
But of course it’s not just about our direct impact – we know that our supply chains are key too. We work with our designers, buyers and suppliers to improve the environmental profile of products and services we source, as well as ensuring they always do the right thing for their people and animal welfare. This includes our onboard food and drink, where through our partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association, we ask all our caterers to work towards our sustainability criteria for food sourcing, including making comprehensive supply chain labour rights, animal welfare and environmental improvements.
Our impact on the communities we serve is very important to us too. We’re very proud of our much loved, long term partnership with WE. Thanks to our incredibly generous customers, on onboard Change for Children appeal, raises hundreds of thousands of pounds every year to support both UK and international projects with WE. Through our latest commitment to them, we’re helping to support clean energy projects in Kenya, India and China, providing some of the world’s poorest communities with access to cleaner, safer and cheaper energy.
To learn more about everything we’re up to, you can take a look at our 2018 Change is in the Air sustainability report on our website: virginatlantic.com/changeisintheair. Or if you’re short of time, our CEO Craig Kreeger has summarised some of his highlights here.
And if this has inspired you to think about your own impact, here are our top tips for some easy ways to make small changes when you travel.
- Pack the essentials: The holiday starts when you pack your bags. And packing light not only saves the weight for you lugging your bags around the airport, it will help to reduce weight onboard the aircraft too, helping to save fuel and reduce the emissions associated with your trip. Be sure you pack a reusable water bottle and bag to use throughout your trip, and leave packaging at home where you can recycle it.
- Offset your carbon: We all know that flying emits carbon. So we’re doing as much as we can to reduce our impact. You can help too, by offsetting your own emissions when you fly. Visit virginatlantic.com/changeisintheair to learn more.
- You are what you eat: It’s easy to over-indulge whilst you’re on holiday. Cutting down on meat consumption not only has many health benefits, it can drastically help you reduce your carbon footprint too. Start with one day a week, try out some new recipes, explore new restaurants and discover new foods. You won’t regret it.
- Live like a local: Treat your hotel like a home from home, avoiding wasting water and energy where you can. If you feel comfortable doing so, use public transport systems to get around or, better still, explore your destination on foot. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover.
- Be a traveller, not a tourist: When visiting somewhere new, it’s always tempting to do some shopping and pick up some souvenirs of your trip. But do you really need another bottle opener or that skyline snowglobe? We say make memories, take photos and live in the moment. And if you do want to take something back for your loved ones, give a gift of impact. Our charity partner, WE, work with community members to produce beautiful bracelets called Rafikis. Each bracelet sold gives back to a WE community, to help them help themselves out of poverty. You can purchase one onboard in our Retail Therapy magazine.