Eco Travel: Good and Bad

One of the major ironies of my job is that I end up traveling too much, resulting in a non-trivial carbon footprint. Last week, for example, I had the opportunity to speak before over 4,500 people, and to meet with a major energy producer, but the trip required four different plane flights, hotel rooms and a series of limos and rental cars. On one leg, in particular, Jonathan, John Fowler and I were going between the same two events, so I hopped on the company plane with them, and was razzed the whole trip. Pictures of me drinking bottled water on a private jet should hit the internet soon…

On the trip I saw some interesting eco-related activities, some good, some bad.

  • At our multi-day Customer Engineering event in Las Vegas, they handed out nalgene drinking bottles to everyone on the first day. There were water coolers everyhwere, and no bottled water. I’m not sure how many plastic water bottles equal one hiking bottle, but it seems like a really good idea in general. We also had a huge reduction in paper at this event, which is great to see.
  • At our Forum 2007 storage event in Denver, our organizers asked the hotel to not turn on TVs and lights in the rooms prior to everyone’s arrival. I’ve always wondered about this strange practice - it was great to see someone step up and put an end to it, at least in one hotel. We also handed out nice notebooks that included recycling tips. However, the notebooks are spiral bound in a way that makes it hard to see how to recycle the notebook itself! Kind of destroyed the good feeling for me. Finally, we did see some nice paper reductions for this event as well.
  • My pet peeve of trip was with Avis, who had my car running for me when I walked out into their lot. I’m sure they knew I was on the bus and just turned it on, but it was 50 degrees out so absolutely no benefit to me to have the car running.

Travel should be slowing down a little the rest of the year - the planet and I both need a rest.