Google recently announced that it had joined Travalyst, a non-profit that hopes to take sustainable travel “out of the niche and into the mainstream.” Along with Tripadvisor, Trip.com, Booking.com, and several other platforms, Google now has tools that show people how sustainable their air travel and accommodation choices are.
The impact of your choices
In a world of systemic environmental destruction and billionaires launching themselves into space, it’s easy to forget that individuals also contribute to the climate crisis. Google makes that clear by showing you the exact impact your travel choices will have on the environment.
For instance, if you go to Flights and enter a destination, Google will show you the carbon emissions for each option. The origin, aircraft type, number of seats, and destination are all factors that affect the number you see.
If you want to go with the most eco-friendly flight, Google even lets you do that. Likewise, it’ll also tell you if there’s a more sustainable mode of transportation.
For example, if you’re looking to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles by plane, Google may recommend that you take a train. Doing so will result in significantly lower carbon emissions.
In addition to checking flights and other modes of transportation, Google can now also help you find the most sustainable accommodations.
In a recent blog post, the tech giant announced that it would highlight “eco-certified” hotels—accommodation options that adhere to sustainability standards put out by organizations such as EarthCheck and Green Key. These standards will help consumers stay at hotels that are doing the necessary work, as well as help people avoid falling for greenwashing.
When looking at eco-certified hotels, travelers can now see the exact sustainability steps that establishments take. From reusing towels and linens to donating soap and avoiding styrofoam, it’s easy to ensure that the hotel you’re staying at cares about the planet.
A timely response to societal trends
This push for sustainability by Google and other sites reflects consumer wishes. According to a study put out by Booking.com earlier this year, 83% of global travelers said sustainable travel is “vital.” Likewise, 61% of respondents said that COVID-19 has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future.
Three out of four accommodations have implemented sustainability measures, but only one-third of those establishments relay that information to potential guests. Google, Booking.com, and other platforms seek to make that information clear.
Power to the people
As Google and other platforms work to highlight this sort of information further, it puts the power of knowledge in the hands of the people. Travelers now have the resources they need to support eco-conscious hotels and choose sustainable flights. At the same time, they can now avoid accommodations and airlines that still have work to do.
Hopefully, as the public continues to learn more about the environmental crisis and what they can do to combat it, sustainable travel options will move from niche to the norm.