This travel company will plant trees for every flight and hotel room booked

Jan 21, 2020

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Travel booking app Hopper launched a new initiative today to help neutralize the environmental impact of its customers’ travel.

“Beginning today, Hopper will be the first travel-booking app to offer free carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions offsets on behalf of our customers for every flight and hotel purchased in the app,” Hopper founder and CEO Frederic Lalonde said in a statement posted to the company website.

Related: Here’s how your favorite airlines and hotels are fighting climate change

The new Hopper Trees program will donate funds to plant up to four trees per flight sold and up to two trees per hotel room booked through Hopper. The company estimates it will sponsor at least six million trees in 2020.

The donations will go to Eden Reforestation Projects, an SGS Forest Management-certified 501c3 non-profit organization that has planted more than 265 million trees in deforested areas in Madagascar, Indonesia, Kenya and Mozambique over the past 15 years.

Hopper cited research led by a Swiss lab that found global reforestation efforts have been “one of the most effective carbon drawdown solutions to date,” with “the potential to store an equivalent of 25% of the current atmospheric carbon pool.”

Related: Everything you need to know about carbon offsetting in travel

Carbon emissions are one of the biggest negative impacts of air travel. A single one-way economy seat between New York and Los Angeles generates approximately 2,205 pounds of carbon dioxide on average, according to the Atmosfair carbon emissions calculator. That’s the same amount of carbon dioxide the average car produces in two and a half months, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculations. Multiply that amount by the number of travelers on each flight, then again by the number of planes in the air each day, and the pollution impact is staggering.

So why trees, and how do they help? For starters, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air. In one year, one acre of mature trees can absorb enough carbon dioxide to neutralize the impact of driving 26,000 miles, according to TreePeople. By the metrics above, that’s the equivalent of just over 10 travelers flying coach from New York to Los Angeles.

Beyond the immediate impact, reforestation has a number of additional benefits for the environment: Trees provide safe, nurturing habitats for animals and sustain entire ecosystems. Trees also purify water sources, control flooding and erosion, and replenish agriculture-friendly nutrients in the soil while providing beauty and shade where people can rest.

Hopper isn’t the only travel brand seeking to lessen its environmental impact. In 2019, The Points Guy committed to purchasing carbon offsets on all employee travel. Delta travelers headed to the CES trade show in Las Vegas flew carbon-neutral this January. JetBlue has committed to offsetting 17 billion pounds of emissions per year, and Hilton said the hotel chain has reduced carbon emissions by 30% over the past decade. A number of other airlines and hotels are getting in on fighting climate change as well.

If you’re interested in doing your part to offset your own travel impact, check out TPG’s guide to offsetting flight-related carbon emissions.

Featured photo by Shutterstock.

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