Discount airline, JetBlue, plans to be the nation's first airline to be carbon neutral when it begins in July to purchase carbon offsets for all of its flights, according to CBS News.
"Air travel connects people and cultures, and supports a global economy, yet we must act to limit this critical industry's contributions to climate change," said Robin Hayes, JetBlue's CEO in a press release. "We reduce where we can and offset where we can't. By offsetting all of our domestic flying, we're preparing our business for the lower-carbon economy that aviation – and all sectors – must plan for."
JetBlue also announced that starting in July all of its flights departing from San Francisco International Airport will run on "sustainable" fuel.
The sustainable fuel it will purchase is made by Neste. Called MY Renewable Jet Fuel, the fuel is made 100 percent from waste and residue raw materials. It's fully compatible with existing jet engine technology. The JetBlue press release says that throughout its lifecycle, the "sustainable" fuel has a carbon footprint that is up to 80 percent smaller that fossil jet fuel.
JetBlue will invest in carbon offsets, by donating money to environmental projects including forest conservation; capturing and reusing methane gas emitted from landfills; and developing solar and wind farms in areas that would otherwise rely on fossil fuels for energy, as CBS News reported.
While the company did not disclose the cost, it did say buying carbon offsets would not force the airline to raise prices.
"This is the cost of doing business," said a JetBlue spokeswoman in an email to CBS News. "We've always anticipated customer's need and expectations — from TV to leg room. From a business perspective this is similar. The difference is that in addition to answering our customers' needs, it also addresses an urgent societal issue, growing emissions."
The airline produces over 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The company is working on a plan to compensate for international flights, said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's head of sustainability, as Bloomberg News reported.
The move to buy offsets now also makes financial sense as the demand for carbon offsets increases with public pressure.
"By purchasing these now, we're ostensibly locking in a hedge against rising CO2 prices," said Mendelsohn as Bloomberg News reported. Other U.S. carriers purchase offsets on a far more limited basis.
JetBlue is following in the footsteps of Europe's second-largest discount airline, EasyJet, which announced in November that it would be the first airline to offset emissions from its flights, according to Bloomberg News.
The idea of buying offsets draws criticism from environmentalists who see it as a way to throw money at a problem that really requires a change in behavior. Kevin Anderson, a climate change researcher, has written that "offsetting is worse than doing nothing" because it allows people and companies to continue emitting greenhouse gasses without feeling the need to change their behavior, as CBS News reported.
However, others praise the company for acknowledging the detrimental impact of its carbon footprint, looking to address it, and to support sustainable fuels. Mark Jaccard, a longtime climate policy researcher and author of The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success told CBS News, "We need more airlines talking like this, and that is really nice."
JetBlue is working with consultants at EcoAct and South Pole, as well as Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit organization that's funded carbon-reduction and tree-planting projects across more than 40 states and 20 countries to help direct its offsets, as Bloomberg News reported.
"We have put an incredible amount of rigor behind making sure these are real, they're legitimate, they're auditable, they're traceable," Mendelsohn said, as Bloomberg News reported. "We selected a carbon offset partner with a long-term reputation that's survived the squalls of carbon offsetting ups and downs."
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By Sarah McColl
Much has been written about the JetBlue business class menu designed by Brad Farmerie, the executive chef of New York's Saxon + Parole. "I'm in love!" one blogger gushed over the in-flight meals, which are a departure from the usual airline fare: a deviled egg with house-made sambal, bison meatloaf with blueberry quinoa or grilled avocado salad with salsa verde.
Even in coach and in the airport terminal, JetBlue brings more to the tray table than those (damn tasty) blue corn chips. There is, for example, a flourishing farm growing potatoes, kale, dill and oregano outside Terminal 5 at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"Just because you booked an airline ticket doesn't mean you have a deep love of concrete," said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's head of sustainability, referring to the formerly gray expanse of concrete the airline's passengers used to look out at while sitting in Terminal 5—the area JetBlue "greenified" with the farm.
JFK reduces food miles after JetBlue open a farm in it's airport! 5000 crates of herbs & veggies ready for take off! https://t.co/hqAeYtlncd— Treebox Ltd (@Treebox Ltd)1471081811.0
Her newest project operates under a similar ethos: "Just because you bought an airline ticket doesn't mean you want to eat junk food," she added. Or forget your social principles.
JetBlue is known for serving products from small, local New York food companies, such as Blue Marble Ice Cream and Brooklyn Roasting Company Coffee. Instead of hopefuls trying to get on board by cold calling the airline and sending samples, companies can apply to JetBlue's BlueBud business-mentoring program. The airline shares lessons it has learned over 18 years in social responsibility, sustainability and marketing. The program also looks at the challenges of serving food at 30,000 feet. Cabin pressure, altitude and dry air zap about 30 percent of our tasting powers. Then there's the tiny galley "kitchen." Farmerie fights against palate atrophy with vinegars, spices and Maldon sea salt and against space constraints with dry ice and sous vide cooking. BlueBud asks food companies to consider how their recipes might need to be adapted or the packaging changed to work in-flight.
"We'll walk you through how we look at food," Mendelsohn said, adding that there are plans to expand the program.
Hot Bread Kitchen was the first BlueBud participant. The company's bakers-in-training program helps prepare women for better-paying jobs in the culinary industry, while its retail arm sells breads from around the world, including nan-e qandi, heritage corn tortillas and naan. Hot Bread Kitchen's challah is now served in JetBlue's French toast.
At the end of the summer, Bronx Hot Sauce became the next small business invited into JetBlue's culinary world and the partnership has the potential to lift up people tending community gardens in the Bronx.
A new urban garden begins in the #bronx at 1380 University. Look out 2017 #urbanfarming #g… https://t.co/H048uSArny https://t.co/TKBWOSDGer— bronxhotsauce (@bronxhotsauce)1472503991.0
John A. Crotty, a Bronx Hot Sauce founder, works as an affordable housing developer by day. Through his work in the Bronx and the conversations he has had with people there, Crotty was struck with the way they told "the Bronx story."
"Everyone talked about the past and the present and nobody talked about the future," he said in a New York accent. "Why does nobody talk about tomorrow? I thought that was pretty shitty."
Crotty and his partners began to undertake projects in their buildings in the Bronx to inspire future thinking. There were education initiatives, arts programs and creative writing classes—but a vacant lot was what captured Crotty's imagination.
"It was such a shithole, for lack of a better term," he said. "There's garbage everywhere. It's awful. I said, 'This would be a spectacular place for a garden, right?'"
That garden planted the seeds for Bronx Hot Sauce. Since 2014, the business has distributed free serrano pepper seedlings to any interested community garden. At the end of the season, growers can sell the mature crop back to Bronx Hot Sauce for $4 a pound. This year, more than 40 gardens grew peppers for the hot sauce and Crotty said about one ton of peppers will be purchased from the community.
As Bronx Hot Sauce fans out from fancy little food shops in the city to tristate-area grocery stores—from Whole Foods to the JetBlue University cafeteria to a pop-up store in JFK's Terminal 5—Crotty thinks it can help people in the borough tell a new story in the future tense.
"When the people who work in the gardens—especially the younger people—see their product in big-time stores, it takes them out of the neighborhood they're in and puts them on a way bigger platform," he said. "It expands their universe very quickly." Even the sky is no limit.
Reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.