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Elisabeth, Greece

I have pledged to stay flight free in 2021 out of respect for the environment.

I started living a flight free life in 2019 and although I have missed traveling, I don’t regret it at all. I will keep living like this because I have taken so many planes since my childhood right up to when I was 32 years old that it makes me feel guilty. I can’t keep traveling like this if I want to call myself an ecologist and if I want my actions to align with my values.

In 2017 I was already a vegan environmental anti-natalist (the top 2 ways to minimize your CO2 footprint), but then I read about the devastating effects of the aviation industry on the environment and I felt horrible with myself for travelling so often by plane. Since then I have only taken a plane once, in 2018 to go to Portugal, and I arranged to carbon offset my flight as a way to minimize the damage. But it felt like cheating my values. And I decided not to do it again.

In 2019, I was flirting with the idea of going to Austria but Greta Thunberg’s life choices reminded me of what my values were. I said to myself «If that teenager is pledging flight free, who has certainly not seen the world as you have been able to do by now, then you must rethink your priorities». And so, I didn’t go.

At the beginning of 2020 I took my dogs and my cat and drove all the way to Spain. It was a way for me to see the world again, and my intention was to move there to live. But the pandemic changed everything – no friend would come for a visit out of fear of getting stuck there due to Covid-19, and as I could not afford to go back to Greece by car & boat, with my pets, once each year, I decided I would come back and live in Greece again. I came back because I don’t want to betray my values ever again.

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort.

Elisabeth Dimitras, 34
MSc Biodiversity Conservation, Researcher / Activist, Greece

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Ida, Sweden

After I graduated I wanted to travel. However, I had just begun to understand the severity of the climate crisis and soon realised that I had to drop the idea of ​​flying to the other side of the world and go backpacking in Asia like so many others – for the sake of the climate (and my conscience). I simply had to rethink my plans and instead I made the best trip of my life – by interrailing in Europe. I’m so incredibly happy that I dared to do this. It made me understand that it is possible to travel to so many amazing places so smoothly and easily in other ways – and since then I have stayed on the ground.

Doing something different and challenging yourself can feel both scary and awesome at the same time, and it is a step I hope and wish more people would dare to take. Once done, it feels much easier. I did experience some questioning from people around me, which I think one might have to expect – but this is also what can start discussions and change in the long run. These questions and discussions are often the ones that quickly turn into cheers instead. Now I am studying the second year in Environmental Sciences at Linköping university and my goal is to work with environmental issues and make a difference in the future.

Ida Woxlin
Student Environmental Sciences, Norrköping. 

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Rikard, Sweden

My name is Rikard Wärdig. I’ve been flight free since 2013 and will never fly again, neither privately nor for work. I therefore choose to join the campaign Flight Free 2021. I’m doing it for my own sake, but mostly for my three children, who will probably in the future ask; why did you do nothing, or so little when you knew what was going on? How could you fly around the world and consume like there was no tomorrow when the evidence was so clear? It would be great to see the Maldives before they disappear, but I would rather live knowing they are still there.

It would be easier for me to keep living as usual in my work as a university lecturer and researcher, since travelling and conferences are part of that, but I can no longer keep doing it. I feel a responsibility to do my part by giving up flying. Maybe it will inspire someone, or help to shift what is considered socially acceptable to something more compatible with the climate. Those of us who have a good and well-paid job, and who realise what’s going on, must lead the way! It surprises me that we rarely do that. Nice kitchens are renovated, functional bathrooms are replaced, as well as cars. Let’s hope for a future where our status symbols are time with your family, long walks in the woods, or going fishing. My hope is that climate policy here in Sweden and across the world does not remain a question of politics, but a question of our fate. We have to wake up now!

Rikard Wärdig
Med Dr, Senior Lecturer, Sweden