Readers’ Pledges to Avoid Flying

February 6, 2024 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nature

I pledged on Flight Free USA to avoid flying. Then last year, I inspired someone to avoid flying, which led to the Washington Post quoting her.

At December’s year-end meeting of organizers, I pledged to inspire five people in 2024 to pledge.

I inspired five to pledge in January alone! A few cited my influence. All took my sustainability leadership workshop. I recommend it!

Check out their pledges. Here’s Evelyn‘s

If you had asked me a little over a year ago the likelihood of me giving up intended flying for the rest of my life, I would have assured you the likelihood was slim to none, probably closer to none. I was a world traveler and proud of it. I had explored other cultures, lived among communities as a cultural minority, and done the hard work of breaking out of my own comfort zone. I was living life the right way, wasn’t I?

That all changed in early 2023, when I somewhat accidentally stumbled into a Sustainability Leadership workshop lead by Josh Spodek. It was never suggested to me that I give up flying. In fact, it was never suggested to me that I do anything particular, sustainability-wise. “Ten Little Things You Can Do To Save The Environment” this approach was not.

Instead, I was lead into reflecting on my own values, and into seeing where my life could use… shall we say, a little more alignment between my values and behaviors. In the workshop, the shape this alignment took was up to me. My first actionable change was a moderately hesitant commitment to ride my son to day care once a week instead of drive. I did it. And you know what? It was fun! I found I wanted to do it more. It wasn’t long (a few months?) before I had fallen in love with biking: the speed, the combination of commute and workout, the exposure to the best skyscapes, the astounding number of “hellos” and connecting with new and old friends… not to mention the financial liberation from filling up the gas tank. In addition to biking, I started looking at my food differently (why did it all come with so much free trash?). I started looking at my energy use differently.

Over the course of the next year, living in alignment with my own values turned into a recognition that polluting hurts people, and that flying is one of the polluting-est things humans do. So, I could either continue a behavior that I knew to be out of alignment with my own values… or I could change that behavior.

I took my last intended flight in May of 2023 from Oregon to New York. It was a farewell of sorts, and an opportunity to meet–in person–my two mentors: one my sustainability teacher and one my Hip Hop Teacha. Now, when I ride my bike coast to coast to reconnect with these mentors in 2025, I will have had one in-person point of contact with each of them prior to the journey. It doesn’t make taking that last flight benign, but that was the decision I made, and why.

I envision a future where our global culture shifts, and air travel (as well as all polluting, unsustainable activities as a whole) is/ are seen as an old fashioned thing: a thing we did before we knew better. And I’m proud to do my part in offering living proof that it is really quite fun on the other side.

Here’s Conrad‘s:

I’ve stopped flying since February 2023, after I decided to move back home with my parents in order to better look after them (my Dad is 97 years old as of this writing). I. Don’t. Like. Flying. I never have. Adding meaningless significant distance from the people I care about most looks downright silly in hindsight, but hey, I had my reasons, and those reasons changed.

Since studying more about environmental sustainability and sustainability leadership through leaders like Joshua Spodek, Robin Greenfield, and others, it came to my attention that I’d rather “travel” much more locally, and by any means other than by car where I can help it, and I can really help it!

Less is more in so many ways. Sacrifice is beholden to a lot of perspective, as there’s so much to gain from not flying. Not everyone agrees, and that’s okay – people are weird and live in dual states of conflicting interest all the time. I hope this pledge and story at best remind others to help those around them be true to themselves and what they really care about.

Here’s Beth‘s

I have taken a class with Josh Spodek and used a carbon calculator to determine that I had contributed 20 tons in 2023 by flying alone. I realized I wanted to change that. I live in Mexico and my children and grandchildren are in the US so I’m pledging to do one flight a year to Houston and to use busses and trains from there to visit family.

Here’s Eunnye‘s

My last flight was in Summer 2016 to visit South Korea.  I have not flown since then. 

I used to love flying all over the world and visiting Korea was a regular trip to me without thinking twice. Now, I see differently about traveling by air ever since I have become more aware of living sustainably.  If covid pandemic did not occur, I was pretty sure that I would not have stopped flying frequently.  

I prefer traveling more locally and my desire to visit foreign countries by air has been significantly lowered.  I pledge to fly home only once every couple of years.

Here’s Joshua‘s:

What are your alternatives to flying?

Train and videoconferencing, walking, bicycling, poetry, and drL–an un-technology that slows us down instead of speeding us up

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