Why I’ve booked a flight ticket and didn’t feel guilty about it

Only a few weeks ago I had written this blog post about all the new year resolutions to be a more conscious traveller, one of them being avoiding flights, and here I am at the very beginning of the year with a flight ticket in my hands.

Did I consider all the different options before making my choice? Yes. Did I feel guilty about booking a plane ticket? Only at first. Does this make me a hypocrite? No. Let me explain why.

guilt of flying

First thing I needed to consider was the reason of my trip, why was I embarking on this journey and if it was really necessary. I know this must sound shocking to most of you but I can assure you a one hour flight to stay ONE NIGHT in Amsterdam, no matter how fascinating this sounds, shouldn’t be a top priority.

I know way too well that, for some of us, travelling is not only a passion but a necessity, a temptation we must give in to in order to keep our mental sanity, but we also need to take care of the earth’s “sanity”. In these cases, a night out 30km away from our house is the solution: no planes included, but still a change of scenery that’s good for us and the environment.

When we do have the need to escape from our realities for a longer period, several are the factors we need to consider at the time of our planning. Time and money would certainly be the main factors of our choice but it’s good to always go for the more responsible and eco friendly option we can find.

My most recent trip was from London to Florence and, even after a thorough research I still had to opt for a flight ticket. I only had 5 days at my disposal due to work, and these were my options (here’s the one-way, double it for a round-trip):

  • TRAIN – A train from London to Paris, a second train from Paris to Turin and a third train from Turin to Florence. Estimated time: 12 hours. Price? £210.
  • BUS – A bus from London to Paris, a second bus from Paris to Milan and a third bus from Milan to Florence. Estimated time: 27 hours. Price? £66.
  • FLIGHT – Direct flight from London to Florence. Estimated time: 3 hours. Price? £45.

If not for the price, I was forced to choose the flight option for a matter of time. Here’s when the guilt started kicking in. It took me two weeks to actually make that booking, because I had promised myself to be better this year and I didn’t want to fall into old habits. So I took the matter into hands.

First thing that needed to be done was to calculate the CO2 emissions my round-trip would have produced. Here’s when I stumbled upon the website greentripper.org and, after a quick glance, I decided to give it a try.

flight research

I wanted to find a source that would calculate every possible travel option, from buses to trains, cars, boats and, of course, planes. Greentripper does all that, and it’s pretty intuitive so you won’t have to spend too much time on it.

Remember how I managed to save time and money by choosing the flight option? I wanted to compensate all that by using some more money towards the planet.

Greentripper

On the homepage, you will find this research (same as if you were looking for a flight ticket) to help you calculate your CO2 emissions for your trip. Keep in mind where you’re flying from and where you’re going, as for this time I was flying from Luton airport and coming back to Gatwick so I had to choose the Single trip option. If your “From” and “To” airport are the same then you can calculate your emissions with the Return option.

In this case, the emissions for my flight were of 322kg. What made me shiver is the next comparisons, where you can see the annual budget to limit global warming should be of 2300kg and yet only the European emissions top the 7000kg. If I wasn’t about to offset my flight, I would have felt sick right away. If you are curious on whether your trip would have had a different impact if you were to take a different transportation method, you can always go back to the homepage and make your comparison. Once you’re settled on the calculation, choose one of the options and go ahead with your offsetting.

The next step on Greentripper is to choose a CO2 reduction project. These were the options presented in front of me, as it was my first time using the website I am not sure if the projects will remain the same or will change once in a while. I suggest you choose the one that’s dearest to your heart or, if they are equally important to you, just go for the blind option and let the website decide for you. I went for the Uganda project for this flight only because I knew I was only halfway my donation as I still had to calculate my return flight as well. If none of these projects stimulate you, you can always use this calculation to make an estimate price of what you’ll need to offset and donate those money to another charity instead.

Once you’ve chosen the project you want to donate your money to, the final step is to make the actual payment or, in my case, to “add a flight” to my basket total. If you choose to add another trip, it will send you to the homepage once again and follow the same procedure, just to arrive at this last page with both your travels taken into account. If your calculation was less than 1tonne of CO2, the website will then up your donation to a minimum of 12.10 euros (the equivalent of £10 more or less) so you are in fact compensating a bit more than what your trip emitted. To round this up, I have spent a total of £100 for a flight ticket (round-trip) and its offset. Not bad if you look at all the benefits!

With this data, I am not saying flying is safe for the environment and we shouldn’t worry about it, but what I want to show is that it’s ok to flight, once in a while, if you take everything into account. I am doing my best to live a green, eco-friendly life, and instead of feeling guilty because I have bought a flight ticket, I just need to act on it.

Nobody’s perfect, being conscious and attentive to the earth’s need is already good enough. There is and probably always will be room for improvement, we just don’t need to feel ashamed of ourselves in the process.

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