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Green living during business travel

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Nov 01 in Green Living 0 Comments

For the last 3 weeks and for the next 4 months, I’ll be doing a weekly eastern-seaboard commute – Brisbane to Melbourne.  I wake up at 3.30am on a Monday morning to arrive at work in Melbourne by 9.00am, and I return back to Brisbane on Thursday evenings.

To the green-living advocate, this isn’t the most desirable position to be in – but hey, this is life, right?

So, I’m now facing a pretty big challenge in my green-living quest – how do I do business travel responsibly? 

Here I would really like your feedback and I’ll be doing some research of my own.  But, my initial thoughts are:

Flying & Commuting

To the green-living advocate – flying is pretty much the worst thing you can do.  In fact, I did a carbon footprint test a few days ago, and by flying each week – plus an international flight from Australia to the US a month ago for work – I have increased my footprint dramatically (as a domestic return flight adds about a tonne of greenhouse gases).

So, what can I do?  This week I was lucky to work from home – which significantly reduces my footprint.  On other weeks when I need to be at the client site, I can offset my flights.

The commute to and from the airport is also something I can consider.  At present I catch a taxi to the airport from my home and my husband often picks me up.  I don’t have much of an alternative here – as there is no public transport option to commute to the airport, but we live less than 6km's away.  Perhaps in the future it’s best to catch a taxi both ways, so my husband doesn’t need to make a return trip when he picks me up (and he can have a delicious homecooked dinner ready and waiting for me!)

During the commute to and from the airport and work – I carpool with colleagues.  Our consulting office arranges our flights so we all fly in at the same time, and we hire one or two cars for us to carpool during the week.

Accommodation

Our consulting agency has booked us into a hotel in the city, which is run by Accor, and adopts some environmentally-friendly practices, although I haven’t asked what energy they use or if they have a greywater recycling facility (doubtful). 

In doing my part, I make sure that my towels and sheets aren’t changed during my stay and I don’t tend to use air conditioning, watch television or use appliances other than the hairdryer.

Eating

Sustainable eating has been my biggest challenge to date.  Normally, in Brisbane, I go to a farmers market on the weekend and buy organic and fresh products for use during the week.  But now I’m uncertain as to how best handle this.  The hotel room has basic kitchen facilities, which is a positive, and generally I buy cereal, organic yoghurt and fruit to prepare in the hotel.

For lunch I tend to eat at the client’s subsidised canteen – as they have a pretty decent daily vegetarian option and a good sandwich bar.  Our office provides fresh fruit on a daily basis (and lollies and chocolate – which I avoid like the plague and instead bring in my own trail mix).

For dinner I either catch up with friends or go out with my colleagues to discover Melbourne’s funky little eateries in the plethora of laneways. If choose to be alone, I go to Gopal’s - the legendary Hare Krishna vegetarian restaurant on Swanston St, that’s been in operation for more than 30 years.  Gopal’s feeds my body and soul – with homecooked, loving meals that give me all the nutrients my body needs and more.

But, I must say, I’m getting really sick of eating out for two meals a day – and need to start working out a balance here.  I don’t wish to buy ingredients that I won’t consume within the week – as I have limited storage options and don’t particularly enjoy wasting food.  I do plan to buy a travel blender so I can make green smoothies and have raw food blended meals, as these are full of living enzymes and nutrients but simple and no fuss.

In terms of health supplements – travel seems to take a lot out of me – so I bring a cocktail of vitamins down with me, and leave a bottle of bee pollen and linseed oil down at the hotel.

If anyone has any suggestions here – I’d love to hear it – as there are still four long months ahead!

Bodycare and toiletries

I am extremely strict as to what I put on my hair and skin – so I ignore the little bottles of shampoos and soaps in the hotel – and instead use my own organic, fair trade and natural toiletries and bodycare products. 

Laundry

So far I have taken home my used clothes to wash in a full load on the weekends using fair trade and organic soapnuts and solar dryer (ie the sun whilst air-drying!)  I think I’ll continue to do that, as I don’t wish to use the electric dryer in the hotel.

How to improve?

That is my green business travel regime as of now – but it can do with some improving – I’ll touchbase back to this entry when I think of more sustainable practices.

In the meantime, I’d love to learn from you as to your suggestions – especially around food.  Do you have any good offsetting ideas?  I don’t necessarily want to use a big offsetting company – so if you have some more community-based and sustainable income-generating ideas – please let me know!

Update, 01/01/12:  I found an Organic, Wholefoods Supermarket around the corner from my hotel - so that made my sustainable business travel a lot more sustainable! 

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