Perhaps the biggest source of pollution arising from travelling is the burning of fossil fuel by airplanes. You could take the train, coach or even boat but they all require a source of energy and you won’t get far without a plane. So if you are an environment-conscious traveller, what can you do to reduce the pollution you generate? Travel less? That’s cutting out the fun. No, grow a tree.
The carbon story
The combustion of fossil fuels means taking carbon out from the earth and releasing it into the atmosphere in a different form. Whether it’s carbon dioxide, or other associated gases of fossil fuels such as methane and NOx, these are best kept where they come from. Even if you don’t believe that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the cause of global warming, anyone seeing the black fumes emitted by factories or old vehicles can tell that it’s not something nice that’s being released into the air. So where do trees come in?
You can view trees as very smart machines. Trees need carbon dioxide to grow. Wood is made mostly of carbon and it is trees and plants more generally that produced the fossil fuels we are now pumping so greedily from the ground. So what the trees actually do is they take carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide) from the air and fixes it into the ground. That’s the reverse process of what we are actually doing when we burn fossil fuels.
So if you are a traveller with a guilty conscience, get started growing trees to make up for the carbon and other gases you release into the air when flying. If you have a garden, plant a few trees there. Not all trees become big. If you have a small garden, you can pick dwarf varieties. Even better, why not grow fruit trees which you can benefit directly? Who doesn’t like a nice juicy pear or a ripe plum, especially at the peak of summer when it’s hot?
What I did
Instead of just dishing out advice, I followed my own and planted a few small fruit trees and berry shrubs in my garden. Always averse to spending more than required, given that I will have to water the trees and care for them, I looked around for a bargain and found an irresistible bargain on groupon.co.uk. Unfortunately these deals don’t last forever, so have a look elsewhere too.
Sponsor a tree
If you don’t have a garden, all is not lost. You can still grow a tree or even a few by sponsoring them. Start by looking at what your local council does. For example, with Bristol council you can either sponsor a tree or join in the fun to plant one.
One tree not enough? At Carbon Projects, you can sponsor a whole acre while the aptly named sponsortrees.com simply does what it says on the tin. According to this site, a tree removes 25kg of carbon emissions per year from the air.
So no more excuses if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. Get out there, grow a tree and carry on flying without guilt.