Stop shaming yourself and make a change

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There’s no doubt that I have the dream job. I run a business hosting surf and yoga trips in the UK and occasionally in far-flung locations like Madagascar. I even wrote a piece in Wavelength last year about my adventures on a surf trip to Nicaragua.

When someone comes on one of my trips and gets the chance to slow down, practice meditation and spend time in the ocean, they find balance in their lives. I love what I do, and I am very proud to be doing it.

Next week I am flying to Madagascar on a trip which I have spent a year planning and looking forward to. But when I think of the way I encourage air travel for large groups of people, it makes me feel pretty uncomfortable.

After another month of bizarre weather in the UK (probably the wettest June on record) and other extreme weather events around the world, I have the creeping feeling that something isn’t quite right with this dream job of mine.

To put it bluntly, I feel ashamed to be running a business that encourages air travel when we are so painfully aware of our climate issues.

According to the Guardian, we take 70 million flights a year in the UK and we are planning to increase that number with airport expansions in the pipeline. A winter surf trip to Morocco can create almost as much carbon emissions as your van does in a whole year.

Adventures in Madagascan waves

Adventures in Madagascan waves

How can I create a business which allows me to continue doing what I love but without the cringing environmental impact?

So last night I bit the bullet and visited a website called Atmosfair which calculates the carbon emissions of air travel. My return journey from London to the capital of Madagascar next week will pump 5,300 kilograms of carbon in the atmosphere. That’s nearly twice the total annual estimate for one person. Or the amount emitted by one medium-size car over two and a half years.

This particular website (and there are many more) offers you the chance to donate money to climate protection projects to offset the effect of your travel.

I know the best way to protect the environment is to not fly at all, but for those of us making our first steps to protect our oceans, rainforests and fellow humans, it’s a good place to start.

I like this quote from Nasa climate scientist Pete Kalmus about why he quit flying completely: “by changing ourselves in more than merely incremental ways, I believe we contribute to opening social and political space for large-scale change. We tell a new story by changing how we live”.

My business and I have a way to go before I can feel at ease with my impact on the environment but I’m no longer going to waste my energy feeling shame. Next time I feel challenged, I’ll be inspired to change.

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Check out some other carbon offset platforms here:

  • Carbon Fund

  • Myclimate

  • World Land Trust

  • United Nations Carbon offset platform