How packing lighter can reduce emissions

If we all took less baggage on our flight, collectively we could make a big difference to emissions.

suitcase being packed on bed

Weight has a huge effect on how quickly a plane burns fuel, and even minor reductions can make a big difference to global CO2 emissions. The aviation industry has been working hard to reduce the weight of aircraft, but passengers can make a difference, too. While many of the changes below may seem inconsequential, multiplied across every flight, they can make a huge difference.

So, what difference does packing lighter really make, and what can you do to reduce the amount of baggage you take onboard?

Believe it or not, taking just a little less on holiday could make a small but important contribution to tackling climate change. This is because heavier planes require more fuel to take off and stay airborne, and so if we all make small changes to the way we all pack, we can combine to make a significant reduction in fuel burn and associated emissions. For example, if every passenger flying from Heathrow to Frankfurt last year had packed one less pair of jeans (assuming these jeans weighed 1kg), they would have saved 59 tonnes of CO2. Likewise, if every passenger flying from Heathrow to Dublin last year had packed one fewer pair of shoes (0.5kg), then 22 tonnes of CO2 would have been saved. If we all packed lighter for every flight, just imagine the difference we could make!

Think about your last holiday. Did you really use every item you packed? We’ve all been guilty of overpacking for our holidays, but many of us might change our habits if we knew what difference that extra book or pair of jeans could make to emissions. Even the smallest changes can make a difference. Taking toiletries out of their packaging, for example, is a simple but effective way to cut weight.

Have you considered renting clothing and accessories when you reach your holiday destination? Many people already rent boots and jackets when skiing for example, and there are an increasing number of services offering clothes rental directly from hotels. As ski boots can weigh about 2kg, renting a pair when you get to your destination can make a big difference. Of course, this won’t appeal to everyone, but it can be a great way to pack light and try out some new styles.

Remember, most things can also be bought when you get to your destination. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a whole new wardrobe when you land, but buying things like toiletries when you get to your destination could cut down on weight.

While it won’t always be possible to take a lot less baggage, making a couple of simple changes and thinking carefully about what you pack, could make a sizeable difference to your personal carbon footprint.


There are also things that the aviation industry is doing

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