It’s not the destination, but the journey that counts

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has shone a spotlight on the ‘no fly’ movement which is growing across Scandinavia. Her trip across Europe this year was taken entirely by train.

I’d like to think it’s easy to make that choice, but for many, taking several days to reach your holiday destination isn’t practical or affordable. However, this year, my partner, boys and I have decided to give it a go. We’re driving to Scotland, taking it slowly and visiting Northumberland and Yorkshire on the way there and back.

We contemplated taking the train to Scotland, but with teens who need to always be out ‘doing,’ and staying in a rural area in mid Scotland, we’d need a car. It was cheaper to drive than to get the train and hire a car when we’re there.

I used the Trainline website to calculate the carbon footprints for driving, flying and taking the train to Edinburgh from Keynsham. It told me that for four of us, taking the car and going by train were about the same (108.2kg of CO2 emissions for rail and 106.7kg by car). Flying would be a whopping 608 kg for the four of us.

The train would have been much more efficient if there was only one of us taking the journey. The car journey emits 106.7kg of CO2 no matter how many people are in the vehicle, but the train journey for one passenger is only 27.5kg.

Last month I wrote about the waste hierarchy – first reduce, then reuse, and if all else fails, recycle. There’s a travelling hierarchy too. Firstly, find an alternative to flying. If that’s not possible, then fly with the most efficient airline (always in economy). Atmosfair ranks airline efficiency, so you can check online.

If you absolutely must fly, offset your carbon. This means totting up your emissions using an online carbon calculator and paying a company to counterbalance your carbon pollution by investing in a project that absorbs carbon or generates renewable energy. It’s not perfect, but if there’s no other option but to fly, at least it’s something. 

This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – August 2019

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