TSA's Top Tips For A More Sustainable Trip Through Airport Security

Travel is not the greatest thing for the environment, given that most forms of transportation run on oil and gas, which contributes to pollution. This is why, in recent years, there has been a major push for the rich and the famous to avoid using private jets and fly commercial instead. Think of it as carpooling, which also helps cut down on fuel emissions. However, in attempts to lighten our suitcase loads and being so on the go while getting from place to place, we sometimes end up with more single-use plastics while traveling as well. 

Tips for making your travel habits more sustainable have come from an unlikely source: the Transportation Security Administration, better known as TSA. Some travelers may use single-use plastics or contribute to pollution in other ways because of what TSA does and does not allow. But TSA wants to help educate everyone on how travelers can be more sustainable with their luggage.

Luggage size can affect the plane's fuel use

Climate scientist Milan Klöwer explained to Mongabay that when airplanes use fuel, they emit 100 times more carbon dioxide per hour than trains or buses. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (and in the oceans) is a significant contributor to climate change. Additionally, the nitrous oxides that come from planes create ozone, a molecule that causes warming and is the biggest component of "smog."

Not all of us are aircraft engineers, but there are ways that passengers can help airplanes cut down on pollution. TSA explains that weight directly relates to how much fuel a plane will need to use. This means that packing a lighter suitcase can actually help the plane use less fuel and, therefore, emit less pollutants into the atmosphere. Packing light has other benefits, too. On his website, travel guru Rick Steves encourages everyone to pack light because multiple airlines charge passengers for extra checked bags, and checked bags get lost more often than carry-ons.

Pack reusable bottles for drinks and toiletries

Drinks and TSA usually do not get along. This prompts travelers to use single-use containers for drinks that can be thrown away before going through TSA security checks. Then, travelers might buy another drink in a plastic bottle after getting to the gates. However, TSA wants people to know that it is not the container that is the problem but the liquid inside.

Empty containers can pass through security with no issues. Therefore, packing an empty reusable water bottle can help cut down on plastic use. Once you get through TSA, feel free to fill up that reusable bottle and keep using it at your destination to help further reduce plastic waste.

TSA's liquid limit is 3.4 ounces, which makes travel-size items popular. These products mean more ways for single-use plastics to creep into your suitcase. Try buying travel-size refillable bottles and fill them with essentials like shampoo or sunscreen. Then, you can use the same bottles on future vacations and even save money by not buying as many toiletries while on your trip.