Flygskam is an environmental movement across Europe which is encouraging people to stop taking flights as a means of transport. It comes from Sweden. Flygskam is Swedish for flight-shame.
This past year I have overheard people talking about flygskam in public where I live, here in The Netherlands. Once I overheard two people beside me on a treadmill at the gym, they agreed that flying must be forbidden. Another occassion I unintendedly caught a couple discussing their holiday plan in a cafe where they finally decided to take the train to East Europe.
Some environmentalists strive for total ban of flying. As I migrant, I am parted and sad at the same time. My family lives in Indonesia. Once in two or three years I fly to see them. I am aware that my carbon footprint increase by this but I can not afford slow travel to Indonesia. Travelling by boat from here to Indonesia would take me 2 – 3 weeks and road trip lasts 1 month while I only have 5 weeks holiday/year. Not to mention the risks of road tripping passing by conflicted areas.
The world is getting smaller, the exponentially growing aviation industry has been anticipating the needs of travel by opening new routes both for business and leisure travel. Look at this screenshot from flightradar. It is that crowded in the air! I remember the time when flying was for the haves, now everyone can fly.
I am not a frequent flyer. Annually I take two or three flights. Whenever possible for short getaways within West – Europe, I will take the train or bus. Earlier this year I took the train to London and Paris for two weekend getaways. Nevertheless it felt harsh for me to hear supporters of flygskam judging those who fly. Are there other ways to cope with this? More regulated business travel or anything similar?
When I overheard that convo: flying must be banned, I was parted and sad. What about me? That was my swift reaction passing in my mind. I am a migrant whose family live at the other side of the world. Does this mean I am selfish and not care about the environment if I keep on flying just to see my family? When I flew to Jakarta last summer, instead of pure joy approaching my hometown and seeing my family again, there were flash moments of me thinking about being flight-shamed.
I don’t know where this movement is going. Perhaps in mainland West and North Europe it is gaining awareness due to its geography. There are more than enough remote areas in the world where flying is the only one travel modus. It is an unmissable mean of transport. Feeling uncomfortable about this but still wanting to contribute; I have been trying to fly consciously.
Some readings about flygskam to those who want to explore more:
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