We know that aviation brings massive benefits to the world. Airlines help deliver a truly global connected economy and bring businesses and families together. Aviation is part of modern life and it’s here to stay. But we also know that aviation brings environmental and social challenges – not least carbon emissions. But even on this issue, there’s opportunity to do things better. Our small Community and Sustainability team spend their lives looking at how we can do that and they publish their results every year in our Sustainability Report.
The team was established in 2007 and the programme is called Change is in the Air. It contains three main elements; Environment, Supply Chain (which we call Sustainable Design and Buying) and Community Investment.
As an airline, our biggest issue by far is carbon. More than 99% of our direct emissions come from our aircraft fuel use, which is why we focus our efforts here. The rest comes from our supply chain, which is another key issue for us. We’re also working to reduce the noise associated with our aircraft movements, and to reduce the environmental impact of our ground operations. On community investment, we’ve been collecting spare change and foreign currency for good causes since 2003. It became such a success we set up the Virgin Atlantic Foundation. Since 2010 we’ve been partnering with Free The Children on incredible projects in the UK and around the world.
Our 2016 Sustainaiblity Report has just been published. Take a look at the headlines:
You can learn more about our Change is in the Air sustainability programme and read the full report here
Meet the team
We asked the team for the top five tips for travelling sustainably:
Be prepared – Where possible, carry a reusable water bottle and refill it where you can instead of buying bottled water. Carry a reusable shopping bag with you too for your souvenirs.
Offset your flight – most airlines now offer the option to offset the carbon from your flight. We have partnered with The CarbonNeutral Company, who support community and environmental projects.
Go explore – Grab a map and take a walk or cycle instead of a taxi; you’ll be amazed what you’ll discover too!
Pack lighter – by only packing what you need, you’ll reduce your weight onboard. The lighter the load, the less fuel we burn. Removing outer packaging from items at home also reduces the burden of waste in other countries and allows the opportunity to recycle them.
Choose an accredited hotel – lots of hotels are now making special efforts to ‘be green’. Virgin Holidays list sustainable hotels on their website.
Live like a local – eat, drink and shop locally. Use local forms of public transport too. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, help support the local economy and learn so much more about the country you’re visiting.