My Tips For Coping With Flying Guilt In An Eco-Conscious World

plane wing in a blue sky with a few clouds

As you all know, I have become far more eco-conscious over the last two years and as I continue to research more areas it has become very apparent that there are an awful lot of things that we all do every single day that has an impact on our planet. Whether that’s waste, plastic pollution, CO2 emissions, chemicals from products, animal testing… It seems never-ending. I have so far made many a swap, a lifestyle change and even more recently a diet change (I went vegetarian in January) but there is one environmental issue that is hanging over me like a big black cloud and it feels that way because I know it is something I could never stop doing and that’s flying.

 

“Flights produce greenhouse gases – mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) – from burning fuel. These contribute to global warming when released into the atmosphere. An economy-class return flight from London to New York emits an estimated 0.67 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, according to the calculator from the UN’s civil aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

That’s equivalent to 11% of the average annual emissions for someone in the UK or about the same as those caused by someone living in Ghana over a year.”

BBC News

 

And this isn’t because I don’t care about the impact it has on the Earth, I really, really do and this is why I feel such guilt for saying this. It is just the fact that I cannot imagine going for the rest of my life not being able to explore this amazing world we live upon. Is that selfish of me? Yes, yes it is. But it’s not just about me, I want my children to experience the world too. I want them to travel as much as they can (and that may not always involve a plane of course), I want them to have adventures and learn about different cultures, I want them to see how each country is different, I would also love for them to have the opportunity to take on volunteer opportunities, to help communities in need and to broaden their minds. 

In my lifetime, I probably haven’t travelled as much as others. I didn’t take a gap year to visit Australia, I haven’t been backpacking around different countries and have only just stepped outside of Europe with my biggest trip being just last year to Florida which was such an experience for all of us as a family.

Would I have liked to have done more by now? Yes! I had so many big ideas growing up and so far I haven’t fulfilled those and this is precisely why I cannot let go of my dreams to see more of this amazing world.

So, these are my tips for coping with flying guilt in an eco-conscious world…

 

Make Positive Eco-Swaps

Ok, so it’s not like I don’t try and I do have to tell myself this on a daily basis– whenever that little voice in my head starts saying ‘you must do more, you must do better’. Yep, eco guilt is a real thing and once you start finding more out it can really affect you which is why flying guilt has hit me a little just recently.

However, over the last 2 years I have made significant changes to my life which you can see here. I am already doing my bit, I am also using my knowledge to help others across social media and via here, I am always on the lookout for the next achievable change and I know this will be a constant now for the rest of my life. Nobody can be “eco perfect” but we can all try to do our bit and take steps towards living a little more sustainably.

 

Give Back

If you also feel guilty for flying, why not think about giving back in some other way? Choose an environmental cause or charity and make a one-off or regular donation. It won’t offset those carbon emissions but it will at least mean that you are still helping the planet. At the start of this year the boys chose an animal to adopt from WWF and we make a monthly donation to each of them. You could also look at websites like Offset Earth as another option.

 

Leave the Car Behind

To help to reduce your carbon footprint in other ways you can opt to leave the car behind at home more and walk or cycle instead. Reports show that transport is responsible for nearly 30% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, of which 72% comes from road transportation. So even though flying may give off a larger number of carbon emissions, using a car isn’t much better and if you drive a lot plus have a diesel engine you will be having even more of a negative impact. So, try and leave it behind as much as you can, if you have a fair distance to travel and cannot walk it why not choose the bus or train instead? Or you could take another step and purchase an electric car.

 

Buy Local

Another way to offset your carbon footprint is to buy local, in-season produce rather than imported food. Take a look at what a local farm shop has in, maybe try growing your own too? Purchase from those who do grow their own and go without those exotic fruits if possible.

“The carbon footprint of food is estimated at around 8% of all total emissions globally. If it were a country, it would be third behind the USA and China as the leading emitters on the planet.”

Olivado

carrots bunched up

 

Eat Less Meat

Eating less meat was something that we actively did as a whole family from around September last year and then I made the decision to go fully vegetarian in January. My reasons for this were mostly environmental but also because I took a (very quick) look at the treatment of the animals and as I sat in tears I knew I could no longer be apart of that. I also knew that I was a hypocrite as I couldn’t delve any deeper and I could never kill an animal myself to eat so I had to take this step. 

And so, onto the facts…

“Food systems contribute 21% to 37% of global greenhouse gases and are significant contributors to deforestation, biodiversity loss and declining water tables. Perhaps the biggest problem: livestock. They use a third of global cropland and contribute 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions”

The Guardian

The less meat we eat, the smaller the demand, which will lead to less breeding, fewer cattle creating greenhouse gases and even less land being used. This obsession we have with meat has actually got out of control. If everybody only ate meat a few days a week this small change would make a huge difference.

 

Buy Secondhand Clothes

Fast fashion has a lot to answer for. The pollution it dumps into waterways during production, poor working conditions, cheaply made, cheap synthetic materials, plastic pollution as well as the shipping to get it to the stores or to you. It’s a crazy world and if you watched Stacey Dooley’s programme, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, you will know how shocking it is behind the scenes. So, instead, look around your local charity shops, use eBay and Facebook marketplace a little more or why not set up a clothing swap with friends or your community?

selecttion of clothing on a rail

 

Travel Light

We are all given a weight limit on a flight for a reason… Sticking to that can be hard for some of us and we made a big mistake a couple of years ago but in my defence, I was travelling with 2 children for the very first time, William was a baby and I was using disposable nappies on him at the time too (and acted as though no shops existed in Crete so packed everything under the sun!). So to avoid this I did write a blog post on keeping your luggage weight down which includes tips from other parents too.

 

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Don’t Fly Every Year

In the last ten years, I have flown 6 times. When it comes to travel, I also want to experience what the UK has to offer us and holidaying here is just as important to me. We have so many amazing landmarks, stunning countryside, beautiful beaches not to mention the history, heritage sites and communities to discover which is why flying every year for me isn’t necessary and I think everybody could easily try and make flying something they do every other year. I know if you fly for business there isn’t any way around this (this is how we got the Florida holiday, after all, we had no plans to go abroad last year) so you may feel guilty but it is probably out of your hands. At the end of the day, it is about doing what you can which is always my message with every eco topic. 

 

Find Alternative Transport

Most of us always associate travelling abroad with flying there but could it be done another way? If you can travel by car and ferry or by train and car you can still enjoy that adventure in another country without the guilt of adding to the carbon emissions that flying brings. 

 

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you to work through coping with your flying guilt and to make other choices in your every day lives too. As I always say you don’t need to do it all, just small sustainable steps.

Do you have more tips for coping with flying guilt? I’d love to hear from you.

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