Sustainable Corporate Travel - We Put The 6 R's To The Test

a shadow of a plane projects on a forest

4min read

Published 17 May 2023


With the business community putting a greater emphasis on sustainability these days, many SMEs have probably heard of the 6 ‘R’s of sustainability – rethink, refuse, reduce, recycle, reuse, and repair.  

It’s a neat framework and a valuable theory - but you might wonder, how does it all work? And how does it apply to business travel?

To find out, we put the 6Rs to the test by sending Maxine - one of our amazing Travel Managers - on a virtual trip to see how effectively she could implement each of the ‘R’s into her journey. Maxine sat down and imagined how her trip would unfold, so grab a coffee and listen to her story below!

A view from an airplane window as the sunset sets
A view from an airplane window as the sunset sets
A view from an airplane window as the sunset sets

Of course, as a Flight Centre Business Travel manager, I knew how to book my trip quickly and efficiently, and how to ensure I got the very best deals on flights, accommodation, and transport. I booked a direct flight (to cut down on emissions used in take-off and landing) and also made sure to compensate for my carbon emissions through our partnership with Trees4Travel.

With my booking complete, it was time to start my trip. Firstly, I decided to concentrate on "Rethink", the most important of the Rs. I set myself a challenge to ask myself throughout the day – ‘do I really need that? – each time I considered purchasing or using something. With that in mind, I decided that instead of driving to the airport, I took the train. A great start! I also chose Economy for its smaller CO2 footprint.

Once on the flight, I concentrated on "Refuse", which meant rejecting any single-use plastics like bottles, cups, straws, utensils, and other items that are harmful to the environment. Instead, I used my trusty reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup (and the coffee cup was later used several times throughout the day!) When I arrived at my destination, I picked up my rental car and refused the petrol models, selecting an eco-friendly electric car instead.

I then headed straight to my hotel, where I had the opportunity to “Reduce”, by taking a short shower and using less water. I opted not to have room service and used my own toiletries instead of the small bottles provided. I also thought about how I’d reduced my carbon footprint by booking a hotel within walking distance of my client’s office, who I was meeting later that day.

Suitably freshened up, my focus now turned to "Recycle". The hotel I had chosen was selected for its commitment to sustainability, and as one of Flight Centre Business Travel’s approved hotels, I knew it had programs in place such as waste recycling, renewable energy and food upcycling, and eco-friendly packaging. I also made sure that the paper packaging that my morning tea muffin came in was disposed of correctly.

A business woman on a laptop sitting in a park with trees in the background
A business woman on a laptop sitting in a park with trees in the background
A business woman on a laptop sitting in a park with trees in the background

At lunchtime, I met my client at a local restaurant. After a bit of business, my colleague wanted to stop by a local charity to drop off an old laptop – doing her part for “Reuse”. I took note and decided to do this too when I got home. Later, my client and I client did a little shopping, popping a few essentials into the stylish reusable tote bag I had brought with me.

Amongst the shops, I saw an electronic repair service, so I took the chance to “Repair” my iPhone by getting a new battery installed, rather than buying a whole new phone. That fixed that annoying problem of my phone always running out of charge!

Want to learn more about how our sustainability partnership with Trees4Travel can help your business travel?

At the end of the day, I felt I’d achieved a lot, and thought I’d managed to travel quite sustainably. However, I knew I could do more and resolved to keep thinking about other improvements I could make.

In doing some research, I discovered another “R” that’s often discussed when talking about the R’s of sustainability - "Respect".  So, the next day before flying home, I chose to take a small group eco tour of the local area with an indigenous operator that educates on local culture and environment.

So that’s Maxine’s virtual 6R’s trip – she did great we think! If you’re thinking of travelling more sustainably, why not take a little inspiration from Maxine, and try and implement the 6Rs into your next journey. It’s easier than you think, and you’ll be helping to protect our amazing planet as you go.

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