13 Aug On Holidays… Packing my Conscious
Today my fiancé and I are headed off overseas, we are headed to Canada to have an engagement party with my Canadian friends and family ( I’ve been home twice in the last 10 years, so this will be a great trip home). We are getting married next year in Australia ( more on the Eco Wedding planning to come).
Air Travel is such a tricky one, it’s renowned for being one the worst contributors to emissions which is resulting in more and more climate change. So when aiming to live a Eco-conscious life, this one plays on my guilt hugely.
We planned to add in a few stops (and ticks off the bucket list) while we were flying all the way around the world. I chose Hawaii, having never been and always dreamed of it, and my partner chose Iceland, for its amazing landscapes and geology, (think round the world ticket with Canada in the middle). We fly home via Melbourne and have added Tassie on to visit good friends.
So that is a ton of flights.
I calculated the approximate emissions that our two round the world tickets would emit… It ended up being around 20 tons of carbon…ugh!
I guess the guilty feeling prompted me to start researching offsetting our flights. There is a lot of criticisms and controversy of offsetting, and so I had to sift through the research to find what I was comfortable with… I was very prepared to go and plant trees myself if I had to.
In general here is what carbon offsetting is: “Carbon offsets are created by projects that reduce emissions. The project might improve energy efficiency, or use renewable energy, or plant trees. To prove that it has reduced emissions, the project needs to meet particular standards.” (Reidy, 2011)
Some of the main problems with offsetting:
1. It can be used as an out. So instead of looking at how you can reduce your footprint, many people think we can just keep living the way we are living and then just offset the emissions and never make any changes. We will never move forwards with this being the common mindset.
*Some ideas/ alternatives to Air travel are: having a local holiday and exploring your local area, a staycation ( I took one last year and it was great), slow travel in the form of a bike trip, hiking trip, or even a sailing trip- which is what we plan on next)
2. The offsets aren’t always regulated and you don’t actually know where the money you pay goes. I would like to think everyone doing carbon offsets has the best intentions for our planet, but there have been a lot of cases where trees were paid for and not being planted and such.
3. Not all tree planting is the same. Planting trees in plantations and monocultures doesn’t lead to a better outcome for our environment, it can be intensive on the soil, draining on water, and can require agricultural chemicals to keep them going. Not the positives you think of when you hear the words ‘tree planting’.
There are many other issues when it comes to offsetting. So more research lead me to look at Carbon Neutral from a local organization called Men Of The Trees.
They plant biodiverse local species and regenerate degraded land, improving the soil adding biodiversity and captureing carbon. They have calculators to help you know how many trees to plant to offset your emissions, for flights, energy bills, and other carbon activities. I will also get updates of when the trees are planted and where.
Choosing to offset with carbon neutral feels right.
We have purchased 122 trees to be planted and over the course of their growth they will capture the equivalent to 20 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
Does this make me feel better? Yes.
Does it make think that my flights have no impact? No.
I see the Environmental impact with every other person on the flight, knowing that only a few others would have offset, and it may not be the best kind of offsetting. I also see it in the waste from the food packaging on the plane… And on and on.
So I am not justifying my flying around the world, I am trying to make it better and that is what I can actually do, and just be aware of the impact I am having and aim to reduce it in steps I take in the future.
One last note… Travel is something I value really highly in my life, I love seeing new parts of this beautiful planet, and I recognize how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to take this trip, so my graditude is immense.
I’ve go a few more tips on how I am packing my Eco living conscious on this trip. You can find more on that here… coming soon.
For now I’m up in the sky looking down at the earth below and enjoying the view.