January is always a time for resolutions. Often it can be hard to stick to them. Did you know there are a growing trend of pledges and commitments that are planet-friendly too? Like Veganuary and the pledge to go flight free in 2020?
The flight free movement started in Sweden and it’s gained so much momentum that the number of flights in the country was down 4% last year, reports The Independent. In the UK more than 5000 people have signed it, travel writers and travel journalists, wildlife photographers, professional musicians, students, Olympic canoeist, mums, fathers and grandparents.
Not flying will not solve the climate crisis – we need systemic change. But people are now making changes to their lives in light of the climate emergency. And there’s power in numbers.
We spoke to 7 people in Chelmsford about why they’d decided to take the pledge this year – and how they might be getting on their holidays instead.
I was horrified when I fully understood the crisis situation that we’re in, and realised how much of a disproportionate impact our lifestyle in the global North has – in terms of our carbon and ecological footprint. Flying has been one of the most carbon-intensive parts of my life, historically, so it seemed a natural thing to try to reduce/eliminate, as something that would have the greatest impact with least effort. I’m well aware that personal actions aren’t going to get us very far in the grand scheme of things – we need huge system changes – and I wouldn’t judge other people for flying: they are probably doing things more skilfully than me in other areas! I just felt that the cognitive dissonance was too much for me – to know about the emergency and still do something so damaging just didn’t feel right at all. That said – I do love travelling and it’s big thing to just give up, which is why Flight Free 2020 is great – psychologically, I know that I can handle the idea of not flying for the defined period of a year, and hopefully by the end of it I’ll find it easier to carry on!
I’m really excited about exploring more of the UK. I went on a meditation retreat in the Trossachs in Scotland in October 2018; I was blown away by how stunning it was and couldn’t believe it was so close and I’d never been before. Ellie and I have also got our eye on some slightly bonkers overland Europe adventures via train/coach: to Celje, Slovenia and/or Gothenburg, Sweden – for Lindyhop dance festivals!
“Well it’s not a huge sacrifice as I can’t afford to go abroad & have no passport anyway… however, even if I could afford it, I don’t think I would considering the environmental impact! I’m hoping to take my youngest to the Eden Project this year, probably by train. There are still lots of parts of the uk I haven’t seen yet!”
I’ve taken the pledge but I’ve only ever flown twice in my life anyway. Miriam and I are going to try and sort a train journey to Gothenburg queer Lindy festival later in the year 🤞🏼My family and I always do our hols in the UK in our van; we’re going back to Bristol in April!
“I’m not a big flyer anyway but I want to add my name to the list as a regular non-flyer. We take holidays in the UK, we were in Pembrokeshire for Christmas, here’s a snap from our Boxing Day walk on Tenby beach.”
Oh my carbon footprint is huuuuuuge. I was one of those ‘but I’m working in the environment sector so it’s ok’ kinda people. I intellectualised it. Flying was normalised early on for me, I’ve bought flights on Ryanair for 1p before! And as a digital nomad for 4 years I flew A LOT.
Finally feeling the climate crisis in October 2018 has led to a radical lifestyle change for me. Where once I defined my life by travel, I’ve now come back home, to be as useful as I can in the time we’ve got left. Signing the pledge was a great encouragement, as now it’s a political statement too not just a personal challenge. I know there’s heaps we need to do, and a few of us not flying isn’t gonna solve it. But I’ve declared a climate emergency with myself, so that means things have to change.
Like Miriam I am curious to check out more of the UK, I also want to get more into my Celtic roots and visit the islands nearby, last year I went to Sark off Guernsey, I’d never heard of it before! This year I’d like to get to some of the Scottish Islands. I love train travel, so hoping to get a trip to Berlin in as well. But the most radical thing for me this year, is I really won’t be going anywhere. Staying still, that’s my challenge.
“I’ve taken the pledge to show solidarity with other people who won’t be flying this year. I want to demonstrate that there are people who are willing to commit to lifestyle changes and that the government needs to actively invest into alternative methods of transport.
I think we are planning on travelling by train to Europe but that will be budget dependent on the man who pays for these things ;)”
“I’ve taken the pledge to minimise my carbon footprint, it’s easy enough to get around via train/coach now. I’m planning to do a multi trip, London – Amsterdam – Vienna. I will do part coach, part train, part cycle!”
Take the pledge: https://flightfree.co.uk/take_action/
Find out more: https://flightfree.co.uk/be_inspired/