That is the question indeed.
Whether you’re team fly, no-fly, or somewhere in between, there’s a lot to unpack with this topic. In today’s episode, we share our initial thoughts on flying and how much individual responsibility we have to make drastic changes (like avoiding flights) in our lives in the name of fighting climate change.
Yeah, it’s a recurring theme.
Tune in for our usual grey area exploration and learn how you can still make a difference. Even if you don’t plan on quitting flying.
So grab some tea, get comfy, and hit that play button.
Find our previous episodes at https://theteaonsustainableliving.com.
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Links and resources:
#6 | No use crying over rogue milk
About - Sunseed Desert Technology
European Solidarity Corps
Trends in air travel inequality in the UK: From the few to the many?
1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions – study
The fastest ways aviation could cut emissions
Annual growth in global air traffic passenger demand from 2006 to 2022
Should you buy carbon offsets for your air travel?
Flight Carbon Offset
Carbon Capture Using Algae
Get to grips with policy: En-ROADS - Community Edition
-Brandee and Hannah
Note: This transcript is mostly unedited.
Hello and welcome to the tea on sustainable living podcast where your hosts, Hannah, and Brandee try and help each other navigate the big messy gray area of giving a shit about the planet and hopefully helping you along the way.
Each episode we have honest chats about our sustainability fails, sometimes amongst ourselves and sometimes with guests, while also leaving you with a little sprinkle of hope and inspiration to keep on giving a shit.
So go make yourself a cup of tea, get comfy, and let's dive into the episode.
Hello, Give-a-Shitters. This is Hannah,
and this is Brandee
and you're listening to episode number seven of the tea on sustainable living podcast
that was very unenthusiastic. We're very low on energy today.
Yeah, it's a lazy Sunday. We're having lazy Sunday vibes.
But we're still coming to you today to talk about flights
Ooh yeah, a bit controversial that one.
Yeah, I think it's a definitely a big gray area for both of us. Yeah. As we'll talk about in a minute. Oh,
yeah. We'll dive into the gray. What's. What's our tea time today? Oh, I don't think either of us are drinking tea. Might be the first time Yeah, I have leftover coffee. I'm sorry. I
I've just finished a coffee. And I was actually planning to drink this tea because side chosen chili Dorothy, like sweet chili tea, which sounds really weird. But it's delicious. And it's one of my favorite teas. I was like, Oh, I'm definitely going to be drinking that today. Interesting, but I'm not. But I probably will later. So I'm gonna take that as like a win. And I actually decided to focus on one of the ingredients in it. Which is phenol? Not a fan. Yep. Yeah, no, this would not be like broadness tea at all. It's like got phenol, it's got licorice. It's got something else that's like really pungent, like a nice, it's got anise in it as well.
Yeah, I dislike all of those flavors.
Yeah, and I love them all. So anyway, it's like a blend me with like tea, and then lots of other bad gradients I just said, and I think it was like one or two more. But anyway, I picked out fennel, which was originally from Southern Europe, but is now like a lot of things grown all over. And I chose a project that's in Spain, which is where we are. And it's actually a project I've known about for a while, and maybe I've never visited but I think I would consider volunteering there. I just like to see what they do. So it's a project based in Andalusia, which is in the south of Spain. And it's called Sunset desert technology. And it's in this like, little like, off grid town Pueblo like village called Los Molinos, that Rio ours. So apparently, there's like several projects based there. And so I just picked out this particular one, which I knew about. And so it's a community based project. So they like support community living and have volunteers, people who kind of like, I mean, they're like staff members. But I think the you know, it's like a voluntary role, but just like longer term, and they work with European Voluntary corps, as well. So it was first, it was founded in 1982. And then they like, I don't know, I was gonna say, built their first house in 1986. I don't know if they built it. And they, like, founded the actual, like community space in 1986 has been going on for a while. And their main aim was, and still is, I think, although I think it's got bigger, but when it started was to look for like alternative like research around combating desertification. So desertification is hard when the soil degrades, and basically turns into a desert. Or it's like my ringtone was that the soil stop supporting? Exactly. So that might be I mean, obviously, there's certain areas which are prone to that because of the heat, such as in southern Spain is a big issue like the Mediterranean in general and actually in parts of Africa. And often it's to do with the removal of vegetation, for building or for certain types of agriculture. And that's like, expose the soil and like made it more difficult like the kind of those like natural processes that that had been in place already, like removed due to like human like negative human intervention. So quite a big issue and has been for a long time. As you can see, this was set up in 1982. Four years ago.
So what are they doing to combat this desertification?
So I think they do like research into various like technologies. And then I also found about some research they've been involved in, which is called, which is around Mike Carissa mycorrhiza. I've no idea how you say that. And I'm just going to read what they put on the website, because I have no idea. I no idea what it was. But it was really cool. So they were, I don't know, if they were like the main, I think they were just like involved in the research that maybe they did some testing between like 2004 and 2009. And it says, on their website that just says mycorrhiza. That's how we're going to pronounce that is a symbiotic re association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant. This eco technology is an important tool in ecological restoration. The researchers were able to improve the ability of plants to survive in the arid conditions of this very dry region. Their mycorrhiza association with plant roots enables plants together more nutrients and water. And the researchers developed repeatable methods for supporting plants. So that's one thing that they've been involved in. So yeah, it's a pretty cool project.
Yeah, for sure. And I, you know, I think obviously, it's like a Community Living Project, a lot of volunteers. So I guess exploring alternative ways we could build community and like support community as well.
Yeah, I think you've told me about this place before. I think I had considered it back when I was, you know, back in like lockdown days and was like, I'm going to be a digital nomad. I felt like I needed the complete opposite of being forced to stay in our homes. Right. But I have not gone that route. But I think Yeah, so like, the idea of volunteering when I knew we'd get together. Yeah, for sure.
That could be cool. I think my I, I'm always like, Oh, if I'm gonna volunteer, I need to do it for like, six months. And then I'm like, oh, no, like, you could just like go and, you know, go for a couple of weeks and see what it's like.
Yeah. Especially because you have a relatively close. Yeah, for sure.
And I think, you know, they like do educational work in the local communities and like, partner with universities and like, I think isn't kind of thing. You can also like, just visit for the day and like, see what they're about? Yeah, that could
be cool. It could be to do to start just like, go check it out and see like, Yeah, interesting. Something to
consider. Yeah. Trip to Almeria. Yeah. A relatively
local trips, which is nice, because we don't have to fly there. Like that segue.
Yeah. That was very neat. So, yeah, we're gonna talk about flights today, which, I think I mean, I'm gonna spill the tea, but I think you probably have the same amount of tea to spill.
Yeah, I think so too.
Which is, you know, I live abroad, right? So we do, I travel back to the UK, to visit family to visit friends. And I also like to go on holiday. So I would fight for holidays, I did like, obviously, COVID made it a bit different. But before that, I would probably do at least four return flights home, like with earliest four times. So that's like eight flights already. And then like, if I did like, say two journeys were fun. And it could be more, it could be less. That's like four flights. So like at least 12 flights in a year. Which is not great. And especially it was really interesting. I think we're gonna talk about this, but doing like some research into like, the facts and figures and realizing, really how few people fly. Even in rich countries. So even in the I mean, the US is like, way beyond, but like even in the UK, it was like only, I mean, they said these are like pre COVID systems, because obviously COVID Like change that but like, it's where we're gonna see the world carry on probably post COVID. Like, I don't think anything's really changed in that way. But like, in the UK, only 15 I think it was this was in like 2018 or 2019. Or like, posts, we'll post the link in the show notes. But it was like only 50 50% of people in the UK had taken a flight. And most of that was like 10% of like, frequent fliers, and I'm like, Yeah, I'm, I'm in that category. I'm like a frequent flyer.
That's not No, yeah, I think we've covered we saw a temporary, drastic change because people weren't traveling. But yeah, I'm curious what the numbers are now, compared to pre COVID. I'll see if I can find something. But yeah, definitely in the frequent flyer category. And I feel like even though I I think I took flights more frequently when I lived in the States, now that I am abroad, it's much longer obviously it's much further to fly. Yeah,
I think it'd be something interesting we should do. I like to kind of vaguely did it when I was at home over Christmas like looking at my like carbon footprint. If I didn't include the fights and looking at it I did. And yeah, definitely, like above the average.
And I don't know, maybe we can do an episode looking at like carbon footprint. Yeah. And I, there is one that I, I do donate to monthly go climate they were go climate neutral. And I think they just changed their name rebranded to go climate, because the idea of they want to do more than just be neutral have like a positive effect. So yeah, I think I contribute, contributed, I calculated my carbon footprint and included an average of flights. And then I donate monthly accordingly. We have an offsets. Yeah, as a whole. We'll probably talk about a bit but can be a whole tension tool.
Yeah. That was one of the things I like, no, no doubt, like, is it worth it carbon offset on a tree? Is that just the way of like us dealing with guilt around there? Does it make a difference? Does it matter who you're donating for? Like, you know, I only do it like when, you know, pop up on a lot of flights? Like do you want to carbon offset like he I pay like two years? Well, and I do it because it helps me feel less guilty. But I don't actually know if that is making any kind of a difference? Well, I think, yeah,
I think it does depend on on. Yeah, the actual company of who you're giving your money to, and what they're doing with it to offset. So that's a thing. And then a separate thing is offsetting in general, is that? Yeah, just a way to curb guilt. Is it doing good because I've heard people argue that it's like, trying to fix a problem, when you could just not contribute to the problem. Like you can fly and then offset that. But you're still, which is good, you're, but you're still creating more emissions by flying. So you could just not fly. And then you won't have to offset anything. And then you could still support a tree planting project or I think the most what is it that soaks up the most carbon? algae in the ocean, I think actually goes the most. So whatever you're doing to and that while I understand that, or can follow that reasoning. It's not so simple. I think yeah, you can still like I contribute monthly with the knowledge and understanding that it's not like, oh, it makes everything I do. A okay. And I can just keep on living. Like it's just a part of my lifestyle and carbon offsets is like recycling a good place to start but a bad place to stop. I think it's the best way I can put it
Hello, Give-a-Shitters. Brandee here. I just wanted to quickly interrupt this episode to tell you a little bit more about our show notes. Each episode has a dedicated show notes page on our website, the T on sustainable living.com/shownotes, where you can find more information about the topic of the episode. In addition to links to any articles and resources mentioned in the episode, we throw in a few more ways for you to keep on giving a shit. From articles and documentaries to books and apps. We want each show notes page to help you feel better equipped with information and tools to take action today. You can think of it as a choose your own give a shit adventure. We'll also update you on our chosen actionable item from the episode to let you know how it's going for us. So after this episode, head on over to our show notes page at the T on sustainable living.com Flash show notes. All right now back to the episode.
Yeah, yeah, it's a really interesting one. Because I feel like for me, flights, and this kind of takes me back to that those bigger issue questions like, Should we just not live abroad? If I didn't live abroad? That will I would be having less impact on the environment? And is it like an inevitable like, you know, then even taking that even further? Like that kind of one of those big picture questions about like, changing our lifestyles, in order to defeat climate change, that's really not what's gonna happen but like to, to mitigate the impacts, mitigate some of the impact? Is it just, like, inevitable that our worlds become kind of smaller, like smaller in inverted commas? Like, do we just have to kind of go back to before that, only, that you actually can't travel as much as you can that like, the kind of fruits and vegetables that have to be like flown in, we just don't eat anymore? You know, is that the only way to go?
I don't think so. I think I mean, obviously everyone has to make their own decision. But I think you put it the word you use smaller? Yes. I think it's inevitable that our worlds will become a bit smaller. It's unrealistic to to expect no more avocados flown and to anywhere that doesn't grow them. No more traveling to another country, by plane to whether it's to see family or for your own enjoyment. But I think if you shift the focus, like we were talking about in the food episode, like if you shift your focus and just eat more whole plant foods, you are Making a more positive choice and having a more positive impact on the environment. So I think I don't think it has to be an all or nothing thing. But you have to find your own comfortable enough place in the gray area. And where that is for you will be different. For me know, I've chose to live abroad, and now that I am here, that is fewer flights to have a European vacation because I'm here I can take the train. Yes, I have taken short haul flights, because sometimes it just doesn't work out timing wise, or budget wise. But I know I could do a better job at allowing for more time and, and space in my budget to to do the more longer the lower impact forms the transition.
Yeah, it's an interesting one, because I like I have a friend who's German, and she basically doesn't fly within Europe, if she can, like 100%, you know, avoid it. And she, you know, she obviously we've talked about, and she's, like, aware of the privilege in terms of like finances or time, but she was just like, I just decided not to do it. And she just assumed she was just like, I just don't look at flights, because I know, it'll be so much cheaper and faster. And you know, so she's visited me from Germany, and that was like, a 24 hour. Or like, third, I think it may be even more like, train journey. And she had to, like work out like the various like, stops. And like, obviously, you're going through multiple countries. Like should we be doing that?
I think if you can, I think there's so many factors that go into whether you can even do that, you know, what's your work situation, you know, if you only have so much time off work, and you want to go visit friends or family? You know, you can't do the longer route. But I in general, yes, if you can do the longer the slower travel option, I think that's the way to go to stay in a place longer to if you can afford the time to get there a bit later than you would if you just hopped on, you know, like a one or two hour flight, then I think that's great. But yeah, I think it's shifting the mindset and trying to look at that first to see if it is a feasible option instead of just counting it out and picking up lights first. So I think just that small thing like no every time you won't be able to, to do the longer option. And often the more expensive option. But if you shift the mindset try to start there first. If more people did that, instead of getting on a boat across the Atlantic Ocean sort of a flight, then I think that would have a bigger impact overall, more people making smaller shifts. Yeah, but I don't know the numbers. I just that's just kind of my take on things enjoy.
I mean, I like I want to agree with you. I feel like I mean, I do agree with you. But I just, I wonder if it's just a cop out. It's like, oh, well, I want to be able to maintain this lifestyle that I have, which I do. So
I think it's a matter of
I'm just gonna be like, oh, you know, I'm trying like my best. And it's like, well, like, really like, I'm like I was a to b but I was shocked. Like looking at the specifics. I didn't know it was like it, there was inequality and flies, but it's like, I'll like post those links. Obviously, there's like always variations in statistics, but like 1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions. And in 2018, only 11% of the world's population took a flight and 4% for abroad.
Yeah, it doesn't have an impact. And that, you know, yeah, just keep flying. And even, you know, and just focus on other areas, even I think if you it's just, I'm just looking at like a bigger picture, you know, expecting the world's population that that does fly, the percentage of the world's population adjust expecting them to drastically change their lifestyle, I just don't see as being realistic. So.
I mean, I agree, I don't think it's realistic. But is that can we do that? Maybe, I mean, very negative, and as the, you know, developments and technology and that kind of thing, but it's like, as, as an individual, I do get a lot of value from where I live, and the experiences that have enabled me to travel. And that's obviously like a very privileged position. But like, is it enough to say, oh, that's valuable to me. And so I'm just gonna continue doing filming.
Was it enough? You know, that's something only you can answer. Because like, I think we touched on a previous episode, you know, making blanket statements the way other people should live. You know, it's easy to do on paper. But yeah, I think only you can answer this one around, let's say Yeah, absolutely. And this came up in I did a workshop recently. It was like a climate change policy and how to get what policies can we as a group come up with to keep the the temperature Below 1.5 degree Celsius increase. And we got there in the end. And it wasn't any one thing. It was like bits of everything decreasing fossil fuels, renewables, there's just so so many parts to, to this conversation. So, you know, it's easy to say, stop flying. And that'll, that'll be your, you know, sustainability. Good deed. Yeah. And I feel like I sometimes go down that path with how I eat. Because I know that I think I don't remember the exact statistics. I think it wasn't a documentary, but I think they're close that the the impact of eating in animal based diet and transportation industry as a whole not flying, but as a whole. They're very similar. I think there were somewhere in the gym. As far as the percentage of of emissions.
Yeah, I mean, yeah. So sometimes
I make, okay, well, I eat the way I eat. So it's okay, that I fly. And, yeah, I yeah, I think that is harmful, can be harmful, harmful way to think but at the same time, like, you know, one person can only do so much and if you if I personally go down the route of okay, yeah, blacon doing more, okay, on an air conditioner. Okay, I do this, okay. I like the heater on I like, it gets overwhelming. So I think I kind of tell myself that when I'm feeling overwhelmed, like, Okay, step back, what's like, a smaller thing I can do? Because saying you're gonna not fly if you're used to flying, you know, times a year is it's, that's gonna be a big change. But I think if you slowly shift your focus, okay, what's one local trip I can make? Maybe I can take the bus or the train, explore, you know, local area. Yeah, instead of one long haul flight. Like, that's a big impact. So I think if you start there and shift your impact and shift your mindset, then over time, I think that will lead to more, more change. And we don't necessarily have the luxury of time, but I just I I struggle with like the realistic aspect of it. Like, there's obviously there is like a black and white on paper, what should be done and what will have impact. But then what does that look like in real life?
Yeah, no, I mean, it's true. Like, even having this conversation, I like to get to that place of like guilt, but I'm still gonna fly home and fly back. I don't care enough to change that, because that's how I want to live. Yeah, fundamentally,
I agree. So, you know, instead of letting the guilt, you know, weigh you down, like, Okay, where can you shift your energy into making a difference somewhere else in your life? Because it's like when you declutter, like people say, don't start with the sentimental stuff, because that's the hardest start with the easy wins, and then work your way up to it. So if there are other other areas, you can make changes then?
Yeah. You know, and I think it'll be interesting. I think that kind of hopeful. I mean, I don't think there's a clear solution right now with flights because, well, the clear, simple flying haul, especially. But yeah, okay. No, that's a simple solution. But if we want to be able to be mobile, yeah, like, be able to travel further. Yeah, I don't think it's necessary, like clear cut, but like, you know, I guess I think even within the industry, maybe for, you know, environmental reasons, but just like practically, like they have to find solutions for sustainable fuel. Because the fuel they use right now isn't sustainable. So in the long term, I mean, I don't think I know very little about this. But from what I've understood, there isn't really a good alternative right now. But there seems to be quite a lot of research into electric playing planes or using different types of fuels. So, you know, maybe there will be like a technological
breakthrough, that I think that was part of our part of that workshop to those types of technological breakthrough. And us as a group, we decided not to, like rely too much on that. And then like, you can mess with the settings for this workshop to see the impact it has on the the temperature, and we took all the way up and we turned it all the way off. It got turned off because the other people in the group were like, Well, no, I don't want to rely on that technology. That's just starting hasn't happened yet. And I argued to turn it on like a little bit, because it I think it is a part of the solution. And that was part of what got us to under 1.5. In the end, in this hypothetical world, where we as for people weren't making the climate change policies. That's cool. Yeah. It's like it's a workshop. Yeah. And it's not Yeah, definitely like to it. It's definitely not like, you know, put all your hopes and dreams on this technology, but it does need to be a part of the conversation.
Absolutely. So what are some actions that we can recommend? Okay, I got like what you the point you made about mindset is probably a really key one.
But it's difficult because it's not like a tangible thing. You know, laying still Yeah, I think looking into carbon offsets, but no, like doing your research, if you're going to do carbon offsets, do your research. But also, think of it like recycling. It's not like a great place to stop.
Maybe some shifts around like travel in terms of holidays, if you can afford to, and you have the time to, you know, what, why do you want to do a long haul flight? Like, what is it about that country? And not saying you can't visit? But is there like a way you can take a longer trip? Is there a way you can find what you're looking for, like closer to home? To do like a short haul flight? Or even to go buy a train? Or is there a way that you could like, make that a longer journey? An enjoyable experience? Could a long train journey be part of the holiday? Yeah, maybe
maybe not. You know, like, even if it replaces one flight, instead of you can't do it the whole way? Yeah. Can you be a tourist in your own city, state country? I mean, that's obviously the US is a big country. So the, the carbon imprint of traveling from one side to the other is not the same as traveling from one side of Spain to the other side. But
yeah. And also, I mean, this is kind of getting into another topic. That's a big one, but like, you know, encouraging governments to give funding for more sustainable travel methods, trying to reduce the cost of like train tickets. I mean, there's issue like high speed railings, there are also issues with that, because obviously, like affects the land. And I think that's like, kind of an another episode. Yeah. But like, you know, there are, there are ways which we can make different types of travel faster, and more affordable. So,
yeah, I think yeah, traveling more locally, longer trips are good places to start. And yeah, I think being a tourist in your own town, like I was talking with the other day, I can remember but like, how many? I feel like every city I've lived in there have been when I whenever I've told people I live in, in this place, like, oh, have you done this? Or have you been here? No, because no one from out of state has come to visit me. So like, why, like, why do we need other people to like, do the things in our own town that bring in tourists every year? Oh, yeah, that's very sure. It'd be maybe stand up a local hotel, local boutique hotel, that's not a chain. And you know, the money is going to go back to the local environment, the local city, wherever you are, and to make it feel more like a trip. Yeah. Because I think what people want, ultimately is obviously for not like visiting people, when you go somewhere, is like a sense of like newness. It's new and different. But I think if your mindset shift your perspective, like you can get that from where you live.
No, I remember, someone I followed on Instagram would talk about, like, she would kind of try and create the experience and her and city of being in a different place. So she would be like, oh, I want to pretend I'm spending the day in like Paris. So I'm going to like, go to like a cute, like, cafe, like French Cafe. I'm gonna like, you know, go to an art gallery. I'm gonna like, go and have a glass of wine. Like, I know, I know. That's like not, you know, you have to be a certain type of person with a certain type of imagination. But I was like, I actually quite liked that idea. Like, can you thinking about those elements that you like, or being in that place? Or that you'd want to experience? Can you like, bring those in? To like a day out in your own city?
I like that. If you can remember her account, send it to me, and I'll add it in the shadows. I like that. We'll do we're trying at least for like a morning or an afternoon or weekend. Manual sync? Why
not? Yeah. Awesome. I think that's about it for today. I mean, I mean, no more to say, yeah. There's always always
let's think of this as our initial thoughts on the matter. And yes, if Yeah, I think there might be a part two to be continued. Yeah.
I feel like a lot of our episodes are gonna end up with a part two. Could be something we can revisit in season two. Yeah. So it's like, come back to some of those episodes, and be like, Oh, I have our thoughts changed. Blah, blah, blah. Anyway, yeah, an idea. That isn't, I like it. But yeah, let us know on Instagram do you take do you take fly? How many have you taken? Is that something that bothers you? Yeah.
Do you experience the dog from it? And how do you deal with that? Because we would like some help with that as well. Yeah, let us know down on Instagram at the T on sustainable living. And you can also comment on our show notes, basically a blog post with links to things we talked about. The tea on sustainable living.com/episode Seven, the number seven. And that should take you there and you can leave a comment if you'd like to do that there. And yeah,
have a wonderful rest of your day. Wherever you're listening from.
Yeah. And till next time. Tea you later.
Tea you later!
Got her to say it! Yes! And cue music. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the tea on sustainable living podcast.
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Alright, Give-a-Shitters, tea you later. Get it? Tea you later? As in, see you later? So punny.
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