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The No-Jet Set: They’ve Given Up Flying to Save the Planet


“I actually think it could be higher for people to fly without offsets but pay attention to the pollution they’re making, somewhat than simply considering, ‘Oh, I solved that problem,’” Ms. Granett said.

Ms. Granett was inspired to start out Flight Free USA, she said, after reading a 2019 article in Vox a couple of group in Sweden that was committed to breaking the air-travel habit.

There is maybe no country on earth with more anti-flight activists than Sweden, where by 2020, 15,000 people had signed a nationwide pledge to travel without flying for at the very least one yr. The nonprofit behind that movement, We Stay on the Ground, is currently raising funds and hopes to get 100,000 signatories in the following few years.

Many Americans are aware of Sweden’s young climate activist Greta Thunberg, who in 2019 selected to sail across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht to talk to the United Nations. But Swedes — who’ve coined a word, flygskam, to explain the shame related to flying — point to earlier figures, including the opera singer Malena Ernman, who’s Ms. Thunberg’s mother, and the journalist Jens Liljestrand, as those that began the trend.

“Quite a lot of people think that what you do as a person doesn’t matter much. However the thing is, what we do as individuals affects everyone around us, and changes norms,” said Maja Rosén, 41, the president of We Stay on the Ground, who gave up flying in 2008. Ms. Rosén, who lives in Sweden, now travels primarily by train.

We Stay on the Ground inspired the Flight Free movements in Britain and Australia, in addition to Flight Free USA. There are other grass-roots movements, too: Stay Grounded, a world network of greater than 150 organizations promoting alternatives to air travel, was founded in 2016 and has its headquarters in Austria; Byway, a British travel planning company founded through the Covid-19 lockdown, allows customers to plan flight-free itineraries across Europe.

“There are such a lot of beautiful places everywhere in the world. But do we wish to go to them and destroy them at the identical time?” said Anne Kretzschmar, 31, who lives in Cologne, Germany, and runs Stay Grounded’s Reframing Project, which focuses on combating greenwashing, a practice through which organizations portray themselves as more eco-friendly than they are surely. She travels by train, bike and foot. On a recent trip between Italy and Morocco, she took a ferry. She’d wish to go to more places, but says she doesn’t need to contribute to forces which are causing environmental disaster. “We are able to see many absurd things like people flying to see the coral reefs before they die,” she said, noting that climate change is a most important perpetrator within the reefs’ deaths.

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