For those travelers wishing to shrink their carbon footprint, Virgin Airlines offers an eco-friendly flying experience. Greenopia, a Santa Barbara research group, performs an annual ranking of airlines based on their response to environmental concerns. Greenopia ranked Virgin America top of the 10 airlines rated. According to Greenopia, Virgin America does a great job of flying green. While air travel consumes more energy than other forms of travel, at least Virgin America’s passengers can be proud of Virgin’s sustainability.
Virgin Airlines makes it easy for eco-concerned passengers to purchase carbon offset units. The airline’s young fleet of planes are fuel efficient in both consumption and emissions, and Virgin increased its use of biofuels. Virgin not only recycles at its headquarters, but 47 percent of flight wastes are recycled as well. Virgin’s terminal at San Francisco Airport is LEED certified, meaning the building was designed to have the least impact on the environment, a certain stamp of green approval.
When measuring the airlines’ impact on the environment, Greenopia factored in recycling programs, transparency in reporting about energy consumption, company spending on researching alternative fuels and the relative ease for passengers to buy carbon offsets when they travel. While Virgin America rated first overall, Continental Airlines was top of the list for the major carriers. Delta Air Lines made the most improvement in lessening its impact on the environment in the past year. As an industry, Greenopia reports, airlines reduced their carbon footprint over 30 percent in the past decade in contrast to most companies making two to three percent change in going green. Following Virgin’s example, airlines are getting greener all the time.