Being Sustainably Responsible When Traveling for Business

Sustainability ­is a growing concern for businesses. Doing the right thing for the environment saves precious natural resources and is part of being a socially responsible corporate citizen.

If you’re a business traveler, or one who helps decide where your employees travel, there are ways that you can adjust your company’s travel policy to support sustainability initiatives.

First, look at transportation options.

While connecting flights can sometimes save money, direct flights are better for the environment when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, since most emissions occur during takeoff and landing. Rail travel is even more environmentally friendly and it can be a good alternative to flying, especially along the East Coast. Train stations are usually located in a central business district, saving both the environmental and financial cost of a taxi ride to and from the airport.

Ground transportation offers many ways to go green. You may want to adjust your travel policy to offer solo travelers reimbursement only for economy or compact cars, and discourage the free upgrade to a larger vehicle that will use more gas and emit more pollution. Also, you can provide incentives for staff to use public transportation in cities where there’s a direct route downtown from the airport.

When it comes to selecting vendors and suppliers, you can consider their sustainability practices as part of the mix. For example, when you’re looking at preferred air carriers, take into account the age of the fleet and whether it includes lower-emission aircraft. Look for hotel chains that are working to reduce their carbon footprint by implementing energy-saving measures, such as installing more efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems and embracing recycling by making recycling bins readily available. See whether they encourage their guests to go green by asking them to turn out lights when they leave the room, to reuse towels if possible. Many hotel chains are composting food waste rather than throwing it out, and using renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power. When you’re looking into car rental companies, see which ones offer hybrid vehicles.

Check whether public transportation is available when booking a venue. If there’s a meal involved, see whether the food service uses locally grown products. Check what percentage of the property’s waste is recycled.

Adopting practices like purchasing generic materials that can be reused for multiple events will help make your meetings more sustainable. Other steps you can take include ensuring that there are filling stations for water bottles and using compostable food containers. Many venues will arrange to donate unused food to local food banks or homeless shelters.

Another way to be sustainable is to go paperless as much as possible. Put your agenda, speaker bios, schedules and maps online. Developing a digital event app can help cut down on the need for printed material, and it can be updated easily, making sure all your attendees have the latest information.

For help planning a business trip, contact us today!

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