Mike, over at 10,000 Birds, introduced me via his blog to a new blog about trying to be green while you work in the travel industry. The blog is called - Hummingbird Blog. I recommend this site, although you will have to deal with the authors fascination with soap!
The topic of this site is of particular interest to me as I spend a fair amount of time traveling for my company. While I purchase carbon offsets for my vehicles and green power for my house, it bugs me that my work results in the largest impact of all. I realize that quiting my job would be one way to address this issue, but for fairly obvious reasons, I would rather work to try to decrease my impact when I travel.
A couple of articles on the Hummingbord blog got me thinking. In the first article, We're Off and Running, Charlie presents a formula (from Simon) for calculating the amount of fuel consumed by weight on an airplane - "weight requires 4% of it's own weight in fuel every hour during flight". In another article, Hummingbird's First Flight, Charlie discusses the waste created by those little bars of soap that are partially used in hotel rooms. I posted a comment suggesting that you carry your own soap to decrease the waste. Of course, this would increase the fuel consumption on the airplane. To offset this, the travel should lose the equivelent amount of weight from either themselves or their luggage.
After suggesting this I continued to think about it. I think we would all agree that most travelers, on average, could afford to lose a few pounds. Thus, if we got every traveler to lose one pound, from themselves or from their luggage, what would we save. Using Simon's formula referenced above, and the assumption that any point in time there are 65,000 people in the air over the US, and that airlines over the US fly 18 hours a day, we result in this formula: 65,000 (travelers)* 18 (hours)* 0.04 (fuel weight) = 46,800 pounds of jet fuel per day savings in the US alone. Annualized this is 17.1 million pounds of fuel saved per year. At 6.84 pounds per gallon, this results in 2.5 million gallons of jet fuel saved. Since each gallon of jet fuel burned produces 21.095 lbs of the green house gas CO2, each traveler losing one pound of weight would result in a reduction of 52.7 million pounds of CO2. Small steps can make a difference! I will clearly be carrying less weight on my next flight!