Last time I took a flight was with work in 2017. We had driven on the autobahn for five hours through road construction and traffic jams just to miss the flight. We didn’t even have time to refuel the rental car, only call the travel agency and ask them to reschedule the flight.
It was somewhere along this point that I realized that it was untenable to have a lifestyle that involved regular flying. Even though each person in Sweden only takes one flight a year on average, that is five times more than the average worldwide. A flight can take up your entire yearly CO2 budget in a few hours. Those who normally fly do it way more than just once a year. And there are a lot of people that do just fine not flying at all. That’s why I decided to try to quit flying entirely.
For what kind of world do I expect to live in where even I can’t try to live within the boundaries of the planet? I can’t expect the rest of the world to adjust unless I make an honest attempt myself. I can’t trust that it will be solved on a systematic level unless we individuals change ourselves.
Since then, my holidays have been by train and more recently by electric car. As a result we have seen more of other countries and been abroad more often than before, at a fraction of the carbon footprint. I do not feel that I have had to limit myself or my quality of life because of this – quite the opposite. It is much easier to live with yourself, and it’s fun to work out how to do things without relying on fossil fuels!
The most encouraging feedback was when I heard that someone in my large workplace had travelled by train to Germany on a business trip. Several people had seriously thought about doing so to avoid complicated flight changes with hours in an airport. I realised it was me they were talking about.
The best reactions I’ve had was when a couple of colleagues thought that me avoiding flying was like a religion to me. I answered them, “More like the opposite – it’s based on a scientific approach.” They went completely silent. They knew I was right.
Now through the pandemic, many more people have had to live for a while without flying and for most people it has gone well. It’s definitely something you can do without.
Now it’s 2021 and I intend to continue on the same track. If you are a frequent flier, maybe it’s the most powerful way to communicate that you trust science. Join us and share the trip with us!
Electronics developer, Sweden