I write less on here than I’d like about not flying. Which is, after all, ostensibly the focus of this blog.
I suspect that this is not least because it’s hard for me to talk about something that’s so confronting for so many people. I am keenly aware that you, readers, are mostly people who fly. And it’s not pleasant to be told that your behaviour is morally questionable. Especially by a hypocritical travel blogger, no less.
So I find it lonely, talking about the environmental imperative to give up flights. I feel isolated, and maybe a little mad. A lone voice tapering out into nothing, met with silence. Or hostility.
It’s so insistently important to me though, such and obvious wrong in the world, that despite the discomfort I feel I must talk about it.
We cannot afford to take leisure flights. There is not room in the atmosphere for such an emissions-intense mode of travel. Full stop.
When I do occasionally hear another voice sharing this message, a burden is lifted. Last week a friend sent me a link to a Washington Post article about the pressing environmental need for us to stay at home. I was so very grateful. It’s galvanising, hearing others voices shouting the same thing as yours. I am not alone, I thought. This is not impossible.
It takes a Village
Community is so important in effecting change, and it’s something I feel I’m missing. I don’t feel I’m connected to other people who recognise the destructive nature of air travel, and I want to be. There’s power in numbers. There’s amplification, and mutual support. But trying to find this community, this connection, I keep hitting a frustrating wall of broken links and expired web domains.
I don’t even know what words to use to find my allies. Sustainability means a lot of things to a lot of people. Most sustainable-travel bloggers don’t bat an eyelid at taking a flight. If they are not my people, then who is?
I looked for a Facebook group today, hoping there might already be a lively community of environmentally minded non-flyers out there. The one small group that I found hadn’t been active since 2012. But in this dormant group space the posts from all those years ago were still up, like sun-bleached posters on a long-abandoned village noticeboard. I felt like a detective, on the trail of a moving target. The trail led me to Ed Gillespie‘s (also dormant) blog, and to a TEDx talk he did, where he frames sustainability as the new progress.
The main message of this talk (which is very watchable, if you’ve got the time) is that we are going to have to actually change, really change, if we want the planet to remain a place we can live. And that that is a good thing. It’s progress. The line that I connected to the most, that had me grabbing my notebook and pen, was this.
Our willingness to act, perversely, is inversely proportional to the impact of those actions.
Yes. Exactly. This is an idea I’ve been wrestling with for months, not quite managing to get into satisfying words. There he has it though. As long as the changes we are asked to make to live sustainably are small enough, we’ll happily do it. But small changes have small impacts. We need real change if we really want to solve this. Real change like quitting flying, buying less stuff, travelling less, cutting out meat, and leaving our cars behind on long journeys, not just short ones.
That’s another thing that community is for, you see. Adding ideas together to make them bigger and better. Clarifying them by passing them back and forth.
And that is the frustration of only finding years-old blogs, and abandoned Facebook groups, when I try to reach out to other people who are committed to avoiding flights. To fulfil this function a community needs to be a living breathing, interactive thing. Not a static, silent notice-board.
Can you help?
I can’t find a community, so I’m going to have to make one. But where do I begin? Perhaps by asking for your help. For your thoughts, and your ideas.
- Do you know of any groups or resources I might have missed?
- Anywhere that discussion or campaigning about quitting flying is happening?
- Is there anybody else writing on this right now who I should be reading?
- Is quitting flying something you’d consider doing in your own life?
- Or are you already there?
- What are the obstacles you see to cutting out flights?
- What interests you about this issue, what do you want to read about?
I’m reaching out, in the hope that somebody reaches back. In the hope that I’m not as alone as I sometimes feel. And if that sounds very self-involved, it is a little. But the point is that I want very strongly for this not to be all about me, about my personal thoughts and feelings.
I want it to be about us, doing something together to make our lives together on this planet a little more sustainable.
Will you join me?