Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Travelocity to help customers plant trees

When you travel, do you book your flights, hotels or cars online? If so, you now can regenerate forests and wetlands through a partnership with Travelocity and The Conservation Fund's Go Zero program.

When you make reservations, you can add a tax-deductible donation for The Conservation Fund, which will plant trees. In that way, travelers can buy "carbon offsets" to "zero out" the carbon dioxide emissions created by flight, hotel and car use.

According to the Travelocity site,
Every penny of your donation will go directly to Go Zero Travel, the first program of its kind in the nation.

A contribution of just $10 offsets an average trip including air travel, a one-night hotel stay, and rental car for one person.

$25 negates air travel, four-night hotel stay, and rental car for two people.

$40 equalizes the effects of air travel, four-night hotel stay, and rental car for four people.
A national wildlife refuge in Louisiana will receive the first grove of trees. Bogue Chitto NWR provides habitat for Prothonotary Warblers, Swainson's Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and White-eyed Vireos among other wildlife.

My question: Is the science valid, or is it just a feel-good marketing ploy?

Prothonotary Warbler courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Blogger Sheridan Coffey said...

Hey Amy!
I really like this idea. Whether Travelocity has developed a conscience or its just a ploy to grab the ecotourism bucks, it does bring attention to the fact that traveling has an environmental impact.

As a birder I do a lot of traveling. As a travel agent I probably book at least 20 flights a day for people. Reading this makes me realize that I a need to offset some of this. Maybe I should advise my clients that they should consider tele-conferencing instead of traveling! (Oh boy, I wouldnt last another day if I did that!)

I wish my company would offer a similar program. I am lucky in that I work for a company that does support environmental causes by matching donations of their employees and even gives grants to organizations that employees volunteer for.

August 30, 2006 3:53 AM  
Blogger Leigh said...

Hey Sheridan and Amy, its like Texas all over again! I just wanted to say that ploy or not, I agree with Sheridan, when you plant a tree - povided it's native to the area - then you are definitely helping the environment in that area. I hope this plan lasts a while and does some good =)

August 30, 2006 8:53 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Hey Leigh and Sheridan!

L: Good point about native species. I hope that's been a consideration in the Go Zero program.

S: Sounds like you work for a forward-thinking employer. Very cool.

August 30, 2006 9:19 AM  
Blogger John said...

I believe that the carbon offset programs calculate the number of trees to plant per trip based on the amount of carbon that the trees will be removing from the air when they are mature or the amount it will remove over the course of its lifetime. A tree planted now could take several decades to mature, depending on the species. So that benefit is spread over a long period of time, and in the short term, the carbon is still going into the air. It is still an improvement, and better than nothing, but it isn't exactly carbon-neutral either.

August 30, 2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks, John.

Digging a little, I see the Wikipedia entry says, "Some controversy surrounds carbon offsets, in particular tree planting projects, due to the uncertainty about the science and accounting of sequestration coupled with criticism from community groups living near projects who have in some cases been adversely affected."


August 30, 2006 10:44 AM  

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