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Green your business travel to conferences

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Sure, you can take a big chunk out of your conference carbon travelprint by opting to “meet” from the comfort of your office chair. But you can’t forgo every convention and off-site meeting; there are times when nothing beats going face-to-face and mano-a-mano with clients and colleagues.

The eco-price of so much face-time? A lot of fuel-intensive flying and driving—and a load of greenhouse gas emissions that continues to relentlessly jack up the global warming tally. Indeed, worldwide air travel (including the more than 80 million business travelers who "meet and greet" at conferences and trade shows every year) accounts for about 7 percent of total carbon emissions.[1][2]

Business road trips present their own carbon catch-22. Granted, hitting the highway results in less CO2 than winging it (even a long-distance, 12,000-mile car trip carries a smaller carbon footprint than a single transatlantic flight).[3] But with so many cars and SUVs on the road (including those driven for business) motor vehicles contribute more than 300 million tons of carbon each year in the US—equivalent to emissions generated by a 50,000-mile-long coal train stretching between Washington, DC, and Los Angeles 17 times over.[4]

Fortunately, for those times when nothing but a handshake will do, there are steps you can take to green your business globe-trotting. Consider these carbon-cutting corporate travel strategies:

  • Travel by train or bus: Obviously hopping a train or booking a bus won’t help you make the long haul to that trade show in Hong Kong or your client meeting in Rome. But if your next corporate junket is regional or within a few hundred miles of the office, try one of these eco-friendly alternatives instead.
  • Fly on airlines with sustainable policies and practices: Find out if your frequent flyer miles are flying green! From recycling to carbon offsets some airlines are promoting policies that cut air travel’s eco-impacts. You may not always be able to choose which airline or airport you use, but when you can, consider flying the earth-friendly skies.
  • Offset your travel emissions: Inevitable off-site meetings and conferences mean inevitable emissions. By offsetting your next company trip you not only enjoy carbon neutral travel, but you also support CO2 -reducing green projects.
  • Take public transportation: If your conference is in the same city or the one next door, opting for public transit (like the subway, city bus, or light rail) instead of short-distance solo business driving means more passengers per vehicle and a smaller eco-travelprint.
  • Walk or ride your bike: Even better, choose to self-propel. Getting there under your own steam has big payoffs for the environment as well as your health and waistline.
  • Drive a green rental car: In line with the national trend toward more petite and fuel-efficient vehicles, major domestic car rental agencies are adding hybrids—and in some cases, flex-fuel cars—to their fleets. The next time you’re at the rental counter, bypass that gas-guzzler for the drive to your hotel or convention center. Think green and fuel-efficient instead.
  • Hire a green limo or car service: Whether you're going to the airport to catch a flight or shuttling to and from your hotel, hire an eco-friendly car service to get you there in green style.
  • Save energy at home while you travel: Don’t leave the “home fires” burning while you’re out doing deals. If you're leaving behind an empty house, remember to unplug!

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