Seven Sustainability Tips for When You Fly

Reduce waste, reduce pollution

Whether you are flying through Denver International Airport or any other, here are some ways to reduce waste and reduce pollution as you travel.

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Tips & Guides


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How can I be more sustainable when I travel?

From single-use plastic bags to disposable coffee cups, we can produce a lot of waste when we travel. We can also produce a lot of pollution traveling to and from the airport or driving around at our final destination.

But with a little planning ahead of time, our tips can help you reduce waste and reduce pollution when you fly.

Otters Tote Bag

Otters Tote BagPhoto by staff | TPIN


1. Use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs

Airports like DEN have a good system of water bottle filling stations and many coffee shops in airports or at your destination will fill up your reusable mug so you can reduce your use of disposable cups. (Just remember to empty it before you go through security!)

Photo by Staff | TPIN

2. Bring a reusable bag

Grabbing food to-go from a restaurant or something from the gift shop? Carry a reusable bag and skip the single-use plastic. When not in use, some reusable bags can be stuffed inside themselves – down to a size of a pack of gum.

Examples of reusable bagsPhoto by Staff | TPIN

3. Take the bus or train to the airport

Many airports, like DEN, have numerous options to get to the airport that don’t require driving and the pollution associated with it. In the Denver region, you can use RTD’s A line train or SkyRide buses to get you to the concourse. This will reduce air pollution and gives you a chance to relax and leave the driving to someone else.

We recommend downloading transit apps before you travel, which often include schedules, real-time information and ways to pay. For RTD to DEN, you can find information here. Look up the transit agency for where you are going for their app.

Other apps to consider include Moovit, Transit App, or use the Google or Apple Maps features. Sometimes Lyft and Uber include transit information.

The train is one transit option to Denver International Airport.Photo by RTD | Used by permission

4. Carry a reusable kit of utensils with you including straws, forks and spoons

A simple way to reduce waste is forgo the disposable straw or fork by carrying your own. (Remember – no knives if you are going through security). Check out TSA’s guide on what can be brought on the plane or in your check bags.

Examples of reusable metal straws, wood forks and plastic forks and spoonsPhoto by Staff | TPIN

5. Bring a to-go container for food

Whether you are in an airport or at your destination, sometimes we need to take our food to go. There are a number of to-go food containers that can fold flat and fit neatly in a bag until you need them.

In addition, you can always pack snacks or a sandwich to bring with you in a reusable pouch.

A selection of reusable containers or pouches that are great for travelPhoto by Staff | TPIN

6. Bring suntan lotions, hand sanitizers and moisturizers instead of buying them at your destination

Too often we wind up buying a sun tan lotion or moisturizer at your final destination but the amount is so big, you wind up not going through it and throwing it away. Bring what you’ll need from your home in small reusable bottles (just make sure they are smaller than 3.4 ounces to go through security).

7. Look for transit, biking and other clean mobility options where you are going

Many cities have good public transit that connects to the major destinations you would want to go. They may also offer bike share or electric scooter programs. Before you go, check out the city’s mobility options and download their apps so you can be ready to forgo the driving…and the pollution.

The Denver bike share and e-scooter program is operated via Lime and Lyft.


biking, walking and transit

Photo by Public Domain | Public Domain


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

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