United's Eco Warrior - United Hub

United’s eco warrior

By Matt Adams

Environmental Strategy and Sustainability Manager Aaron Stash could be forgiven for having an indulgence or two; after all, he is one of the driving forces behind United's pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next 30 years. Surely doing that much good on a global scale cancels out, say, owning a gas-guzzling sports car or leaving the faucet running while he brushes his teeth.

Aaron isn't that kind of guy, though. He's the real deal, with a real respect for the earth and its bounty. That's especially evident when he talks about creating a lasting culture of sustainability at United. But if you need proof of just how far he'll go in personally walking the walk, how's this? He lives in a custom-built, eco-friendly home.

"When my wife and I had the opportunity to build a house, we decided to build one that was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum," Aaron said. "Over the course of two plus years, every waking hour when I wasn't working was devoted to planning what the house was going to look like, what we were going to put into it, and how we were going to do it on a budget."

The home, located just north of Chicago, contains energy-efficient appliances, low-flow faucets and fixtures, LED lighting and enough insulation to maintain a comfortable interior temperature without the constant need for heating or air conditioning. Soon, the Stashes will add 39 solar panels to their roof, enough to generate roughly 16,000 kilowatts a year to power the residence. When they tore down the home that previously sat on their lot, Aaron and his wife even recycled the bricks and other usable building materials.

Seeing the project to completion gave Aaron a tremendous sense of accomplishment, but after moving into the house in 2014, he yearned to do more.

"I was in marketing communications at that time, but I started wondering what United was doing about sustainability," he said.

He soon found that, even then, we were a leader in that space. When Aaron interviewed the Environmental Affairs manager for details about her team's work, she mentioned to him that she had accepted a new job and that her current one would soon be available. Two weeks later, Aaron had it.

Since then, he's had a hand in a number of projects, including the "Shedd the Straw" campaign, in partnership with Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, that rid our airplanes of non-biodegradable straws and stir sticks. He also developed our relationship with Clean the World, the organization that takes our unused amenity kit items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap that would have otherwise been thrown away, and donates them to relief aid charities. That alone diverts as much as 50,000 pounds of material from landfills each year.

Most importantly, Aaron and his team have worked hard on substituting traditional jet fuel with clean, sustainable biofuels produced from waste byproducts to cut carbon emissions. United is currently the only U.S. carrier using a biofuel blend on daily flights, with plans to purchase another 1 billion gallons of biofuels going forward.

"Oftentimes, people don't think about what's coming out of our engines and how that makes the biggest environmental impact," he said. "They want to know if we recycle our cans or not, which we do, but you can't forget about the bigger issue."

Since 1990, we have cut aircraft emissions by 45 percent thanks to biofuels, more fuel-efficient planes and a number of operational and technological improvements. As a result, United now has the smallest gross carbon footprint of the "big three" U.S. airlines, beating Delta (DL) and American (AA). Outside of parking our jets and not flying at all, we're doing everything possible to minimize our greenhouse gas output.

"We're using all the tools and technology currently at our disposal to reduce fuel burn, and we're looking into things we can do for the future," said Aaron. "Our actions today will have a ripple effect in the years to come. Hopefully, history will judge us well."

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On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
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CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

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In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

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