Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 18, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY


Sustainable Traveler? It’s harder than it sounds.

Well, I left Ithaca mid-afternoon on Friday, heading for Denver, Colorado. I know, what you’re thinking, and no Fall Break for Ithaca College has not started yet. However, I do have a legitimate reason for missing a few days of class. I am presenting at a conference for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The conference happens every year, and IC always manages to send a few members of the campus community to present and participate. I got lucky and was one of those this year. But how ironic that in order to get to a sustainability conference, I have to travel in the least sustainable way possible: by plane.

Many of us are familiar with air travel, how it is a quicker and often the only way that travelers can get to their destinations. But with that luxury comes some setbacks, most especially, in relation to this conference, the amount of greenhouse gases to get me from point A to point B. Though there some debate on just how much of an impact aviation has, it is clear that when you fly a large aircraft, some form of greenhouse gas and harmful substances are released into the air. And that, my friends, is no good. So what is an Ithacan to? Do we just not fly, avoid exploration of cultures other than our own? Well, no, that just seems unreasonable. SO let’s indulge in a different option, shall we?

Through flying through the college, I learned about something called carbon offsets. Basically, the gist is that you can fly and pay money to an offset company, like CarbonFund, to, well, offset the number of greenhouse gases you are releasing to the air with each flight. The money will go to reforestation projects or renewable energy projects, so while you fly and release, at the same time your are funding a project to help counter the harm. It doesn’t mean there are no gases being released, but at least you are conscious of it and making some type of effort to help.

And with that mini lesson on carbon offsets, I am off. AASHE 2010 starts early tomorrow and I want to be ready to go! Cheers!