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Flying Green!

Let's communicate environment conservation tips to airplane passengers as an in-flight featured presentation.

Photo of Jaime Gusching

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Airlines have the unique opportunity to communicate ways to go green to captive passenger audience. As the flight is boarding, the TV monitors inform passengers how to conserve resources during the flight and afterwards in their daily lives. After the mandatory safety presentation, a short video plays to encourage passengers to use electronic boarding passes and thereby eliminate paper waste and save trees. The EPA has already produced the content in these short podcasts

Additionally, airlines could reward individuals who forgo a plastic cup by bringing their own reusable water containers with airline miles or points.

Flight attendants could ditch the straws and coffee stirrers by pouring the requested amount of cream and sugar first, then mixing in the coffee. This practice would eliminate single serving creamer containers. 

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

Airlines stand to gain significant cost savings by going green and encouraging travelers to follow suite. One source ( claims the cost of processing a paper ticket is approximately $10, while processing an e-ticket costs only $1. In the near future, e-tickets could save the airline industry $3 billion a year. If airlines present tips and tricks for going green to their customers, they may take more significant steps towards reducing their carbon footprint—such investing in hybrid aircrafts, recycling engine wash water, using environmentally friendlier cabin materials (a la Southwest). Hybrid aircrafts:( Southwest's green initiatives:

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

Based on the premise that knowledge is power, this idea is another avenue to inform and persuade travelers to mitigate their carbon footprint. According to a New York Times article, for many, air travel is most serious "environmental sin". "One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year." How would people's behavior change if they were told at the beginning of their flight the direct consequences of their travel? Let's give passengers actionable ways to neutralize their negative environmental impact. (( )

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

As a result of this thought exercise, I'm going to bring my own reusable water bottle during my travels and not use the plastic cups. Since Southwest airlines seem to be on the vanguard of green airlines, writing a letter to request a featured green presentation on flights may be the place to start.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I would love the OpenIDEO community to evaluate my idea keeping in mind their own travel experiences and whether or not it's realistic for passengers to modify their expectations and behavior. How can we encourage airlines to stop using plastic cups and switch to compostable ones? Do we really need the napkins or stirrers. Could they be made available only by request?

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Photo of ted selker

The biggest ways passengers can save energy is by not bringing things with them, it takes 100 pounds of fuel to drag 150 pounds on a long haul flight: Forgo magazines , i go to asia with a 20 pound carry on for 3 weeks. wash your clothes daily don't bring more than 3 pairs of anything!

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