I’m super excited today: I just booked a flight to CA to go visit my cousin in California and it only cost $10.

Because of our geographical distance, I only see my cousin Kris once, maybe twice a year– if we’re lucky. We visited her twice while she lived in Hawaii, once while we were on our Honeymoon and then again when she graduated from grad school. So, after many promises to go visit her now that she’s living on the mainland again, I’m over the moon that I had a bunch of frequent flyer miles to burn, thus the $10 ticket.

Ok so, because I’ve been stockpiling my miles from years of business travel and grocery shopping rewards, in reality, I “paid” more for the trip.

$10? That can’t be, right?

Ok, I paid a wee bit more– I paid $18.61 all together.

So what was the additional $8.61?

If you’ve traveled recently, I’m sure you’ve seen the option to add more to your flight to offset the pollution incurred from your trip.

It’s a well known fact that aviation has a detrimental environmental impact. Air travel has been called the fastest-growing source of C02 emissions.

But the truth is, people are always going to fly for business and pleasure. So, what’s an eco-conscious passenger to do?

As the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) says,

There are a number of options that allow travellers to contribute positively to the environment. Carbon offsetting is a voluntary way of combating climate change by funding sustainable projects all over the world.

According to the airline, Carbon emissions based on my itinerary is 0.7177 Metric Tons of CO2. My eco-conscience set in and I felt a bit guilty after booking my flight because of this environmental impact.

stiFor my particular itinerary, I was given the option to make a contribution to the non-profit organization , Sustainable Travel International (STI).

How did they come up with this random number as a contribution?

According to STI,

The calculations we use are based on actual fuel consumption of the Continental Airlines fleet

There are three factors used in our calculator:

* Continental Airlines average fleet fuel consumption rate per mile flown for each aircraft type in the fleet.
* CO2 emitted per kilogram of jet fuel burned.
* The distance flown calculated as the great circle distance (shortest distance between two points on the earth) between the departure and destination airports.

And even better, I was able to offset my guilt, too!

Purchasing carbon offsets is a great way to compensate for the CO2 pollution you create when driving, flying, or using electricity. Your offset purchase stimulates demand for renewable energy, increases energy efficiency, and provides incentives for increases in the production of renewable energy production.

Offsetting energy isn’t an excuse to pollute. It’s a way to take responsibility for the pollution that can’t be avoided. We encourage you to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste production as much as you can, and then offset the rest of the energy you do use with clean and sustainable sources of energy.

I don’t know what I’m more excited about, the $18.61 flight to go see Auntie Kris or that I was able to give my eco-conscience a reprieve by purchasing carbon offset. Definitely all of the above.

Here we come, Auntie Kris. Get ready for 5 a.m. sheiks of excitement. (In Pacific time, that would be 2 a.m.)

Traveling with an infant cross country? Yeah, that’s a whole different excitement 😉