How far would you go for the environment?
If you like to travel this is going to be a challenging blog post. I'm writing it because I am trying to sort out how my conflicting values, specifically caring for the environment AND my love of adventure can live in harmony. I know that you are here because you want to live a soul-centered life. You want to eliminate cognitive dissonance in your life and the best way to do that is by living aligned with your values. I want to help us think about how to do that when it comes to travel. It's one thing to participate in Plastic Free July. I love that so many people are setting a goal to reduce their use of plastic, especially single use plastic this month. It's another thing altogether to consider how your travel impacts the environment. And to be open to changing. We’ve become a world of travellers. It is expected that 2019 will set a new record in terms of the number of scheduled passengers with almost 4.6 billion, around 130 percent higher than in 2004. Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/564717/airline-industry-passenger-traffic-globally/ Our love of travel has made it is the easiest point of connection when you meet someone new. “Been on any trips recently or planning any?”, has become the most common question I’m asked when I’m getting any service done. It's right up there with talking about the weather. Unfortunately, all that air travel is having an impact on the environment. Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. It accounts for four to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity. Source: https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/air-travel-climate-change/ Please keep reading!!! I’ve thought about this for several years. I first really considered it when I read Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel. He works very hard to limit his travel and says no to all invitations that require air travel. When I heard him speak he talked about his struggle to fly across the US to a famly wedding. He was quite conflicted about it. And I understand why. If you care about something and then you consciously choose to damage it - you have to live with that awareness. I am trying to sort this out for myself. I don’t have any great answers yet. So, I thought I would start with some questions! If you still want to travel with all the other billions of people taking to the air but you also value the earth, I hope these questions help you think through a balanced approach. 1. Are there places closer to home to explore you could visit? Explore alternatives to air travel. I live in Canada - a big beautiful country. I’ve been fortunate to explore much of it but there are still places I want to visit or revisit. 2. Why do you want to go to a certain location? Are you checking off a list, collecting stamps in your passport, or is there a soul-centered reason to visit? Like so much of our life, we are being sold a fantasy about travel. We've been duped into believing our vacation will change our life by marketers. A lot of money is going into Travel and Tourism.
3. Is there an alternative way to travel other than flying? Next time I go to Europe I plan to rent a car and drive or take a train rather than fly from country to country. For me travel isn't about hitting all the tourist spots - it's about seeing the country. So..slowing down is a great way to see things that are off the beaten path. 4. What do I want to experience? Focus on the experience you want to have. Think quality over quantity. To be honest, there have been times when I’ve been bored in social conversations that have become reduced to travelogues rather than dialogues. I’m all for hearing about your vacation if you want to talk about how it has impacted you. How has your travel changed you or broadened you in some way?
5. Can you live like a tourist in your own city? I love this idea. Take an artist date. Many of us travel to escape. To get away from the pressures of modern life. To experience a different way of being. There are probably many experiences to be had in your own neighbourhood. Instead of living for those two weeks a year - why not see what you can find outside your own front door? 6. Have you considered the impact of your travel on the culture and on environment of the location you plan to travel? I often hear the rational for travel ‘it boosts the local economy’. It’s a very short sighted view. Sacred sites are being desecrated, small remote islands are being flooded with tourists. I’ve been reading how places like Easter Island are reducing the length of stay for tourists because of the negative impact it is having on their culture. 7. What can you do to offset the impact of your visit? Travel with a water bottle, cutlery, napkins and other items to reduce waste. Use alternatives to hotels when possible or choose hotels that have a stated environmental/waste reduction strategy. Many hotels are making efforts to reduce their environmental impact there is no denying the waste. And you can use a website like Cool Effect for support a project that will offset your carbon emissions. I know this isn't an easy conversation and there are no simple answers. That's why I offered questions. I'm not ready to stop travelling but I am ready to take responsibility for the way I travel and the amount I travel. Travel is a luxury and many of us are able to afford to travel. We have choices available to us. We can make better choices. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! What questions did I miss asking? And if your feel irritated or wish I hadn't brought this up consider it an opportunity to be a more caring global citizen.