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A search engine that plants trees, a booking site that finds options with the lowest carbon footprint, and more ways to travel sustainably

Jessica Mordo  – January 29, 2020 | Updated April 29, 2020

Sustainability is a growing concern in the world of travel. It’s no secret that air travel hurts the environment, with fuel combustion creating large deposits of carbon in the atmosphere (a key contributor to climate change). People around the globe are attempting to lessen their carbon footprint through travel; in Sweden a “flying shame” (a.k.a. flygskam) movement has caught on that encourages people to avoid getting on a plane altogether. In the wide-ranging American continent, that goal is relatively unrealistic; we are still boarding planes for business and leisure to get to and from faraway locations.

However, if you are planning to fly but want to consciously mitigate your impact, there are some helpful tools to help you in your quest. These five apps make the process of finding and booking eco-friendly travel easier, and some of them are leveraging their customers’ business to actively fight against the tide of carbon emissions.

Hopper: Book Travel for Carbon Offsets

Through its “Hopper Trees” initiative, this travel company offers free carbon emission offsets for every hotel and flight booked through the app. In addition, for every travel booking made on its platform, Hopper will donate funds to non-profit group Eden Reforestation Projects, which plants trees in deforested areas—touted as one of the most effective carbon drawdown solutions to date. Hopper’s ambitious 2020 goal? Work with Eden to plant more than six million trees. 

Ecosia: Search the Web, Plant a Tree

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This European search engine might not have as wide a household adoption as Google, but it does it one better by planting trees for every search conducted on its platform. When you search the web on Ecosia, the company uses the ad revenue generated to plant trees—a staggering count of more than 82 million so far, and growing—in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. One key forest habitat Ecosia has aimed to replenish is on Sumatra, Indonesia, home to the orangutan. Interested in helping them meet their billion tree goal for the year? It only takes a couple of clicks to install the Ecosia extension on your Chrome browser.

Glooby: Find the Most Eco-Friendly Options

One of the most time-consuming parts of online travel research is having to toggle between multiple sources to find the best options for a trip. But if you want to find the most fuel-efficient flight? Or an eco-friendly hotel? Booking sites haven’t easily surfaced that info—until now. Glooby aggregates sustainable flight and hotel data in one place, allowing you to compare results across many sites and highlighting the most earth-friendly options. You can even refine flight results for those with the lowest carbon emissions. Now that’s what we call efficient.

TripZero: Nab a Hotel Stay for Carbon Offsets

Do you want to mitigate your trip’s carbon footprint at no added cost to you? We thought so. Through a partnership with Expedia, TripZero taps into a network of millions of low-cost international hotel rooms. These properties pay TripZero a commission for new bookings—which TripZero, in turn, uses to buy carbon offsets that fund reforestation, clean energy, and other sustainable projects around the world.

offCents: Do Your Own Carbon Calculations (Easily)

It’s nice to have companies do the work of calculating and offsetting your carbon footprint for you, but perhaps you’d like to take matters into your own hands. The free offCents app tracks and calculates your emissions in real-time in a variety of modes of transport (air, train, bus, car), and then gives you the option to purchase offsets. Proceeds from those purchases go towards funding forest protection, renewable energy, and other carbon reduction projects. The app also offers a punch card of sorts—each time you buy offsets, you earn points toward future rewards (typically in the form of earth-friendly products).

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