We’re facing a family dilemma, for years we have decided that we would eventually move back to Canada, now the time has come to plan our move. As part of our decision making process, we are facing environmental and sustainability issues. Budget is an issue that is driving many of our decisions, but we are open to inexpensive alternatives that would be more sustainable than the standard options.

The first is the travel to Canada from Australia.

Air Travel

Carbon OffsetsFrom the information I’ve been able to gather, it appears that a 13,000 km (7,750 mile) flight from Sydney to Vancouver, via Honolulu will net approximately 1,900 kg (4,300 lb) of CO2 per passenger. For a detailed, (different analysis) check this out.  I wanted to get on a cargo ship and take a month to do the trip, (check out the prices, it’s pretty reasonable for a dual occupancy cabin, I would have ended up doing it by myself I think, maybe for our next big trip.  Here’s another website.

So we are pretty stuck with air travel, but could we do some carbon offsetting.  The data in the graph on the right is from Atmosfair, where you can enter the details of your flight, then purchase offsets. For this trip it would be 82 Euro’s per passenger, about $140 Australian Dollars.

Seed Magazine reports that Travelocity is now offering carbon offsets to mitigate the global-warming impacts of travel. The site recommends a $10 donation to offset round-trip air travel, a one-night hotel stay, and car rental for one person…

Source: Carbon Offsets Through Travelocity (I’m sick of your insane demands.)

Donations received through Travelocity’s program will finance tree-planting efforts in Louisiana’s Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, 45 miles north of New Orleans. The money from Travelocity customers pays for seedlings, ground preparation, planting, and monitoring of the forest. The cost per tree works out to about $5, Fanning said.

Carbon offsets have the potential to make a significant dent in pollution and the rate of global warming… Forests in the U.S. currently sequester about 200 million kilograms of CO2 per year. This amount is equivalent to about 10 percent of annual United States emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

Source: Seed: The New Leave No Trace


For more information about going carbon neutral, check out The David Suzuki Foundation’s page on this topic, there are heaps of links to check out too.


When we get to Canada, we will need a car to get around, pretty much regardless of where we live. We can’t afford a house or condo in  a high density area close to shops, work, church, friends etc. so we are stuck with the “need ” for a car.

One thing I’ve noticed in the sustainable discussion is that when a new product comes out, the vibe is that everyone should change to it, as soon as possible. That’s great for the environment, and for the manufacturer of that product, but it doesn’t necessarily intersect with a culture of sustainable living, where reuse, recycling and making do with what you’ve got, (or are given) add new dimensions to the equation. Sustainability from a citizen’s perspective is too often seen as just the purchasing and disposal choices they make.

We are likely to inherit a minivan when we arrive in Canada, it has over 200,000 km on it, but runs well and has a few more years of good, relatively clean driving in it. I’m not about to go and do a triple bottom line net present value analysis on our decision to accept this gift, or purchase a car, the simple reality is that we have other large expenses on this relocation that have to fit into our tight budget.  So reuse is our choice here. 

More of our decisions tomorrow… I’d love to hear your comments on this and any suggestions to make our relocation as sustainable as possible.


Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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