Should I just swim?

Guest post by Ragnheiður Björk Halldórsdóttir (pictured above)

More and more people are becoming aware of the environmental effects that individuals cause in their daily lives. For many people, seeing unsorted trash thrown away tugs at their heartstrings. Others find it completely incomprehensible why plastic straws are still being made, let alone two in one drink. Still others are foregoing the use of private cars, energy wastage, water wastage, food waste, disposable packs, little-used clothing, and are ashamed to forget reusable bags at home when they go to the grocery store. There is then an unmistakable rise in people’s shock at the high carbon dioxide emissions that an individual causes by sitting on a plane. This is the so-called “flight-shame” or “flugviskubit” in Icelandic, a concept that has its roots in Sweden.

According to the dictionary, “flight-shame” can roughly be defined as a guilty conscience that passengers receive from air travel due to its negative environmental impact [1]. As a result of this guilty conscience, the number of passengers in the first quarter of 2019 decreased by 378,000 in Sweden compared to 2018 [2]. Although the beginnings of this guilt have also begun to plague many Icelanders, such a spread has not yet taken place there. This is probably explained by the fact that many of us Icelanders cannot imagine the fate of never being able to leave our beloved country for a vacation with few other alternatives to flights. Certainly, the number of flights we take can be reduced by extending our travel abroad or traveling more domestically. In addition, the carbon emissions from these flights can be compensated by planting trees, for example, through companies such as Kolviðar [3]. It has even become easier to know the exact equivalent of these emissions in a number of trees thanks to an Icelandic doctoral student in computer science in Sweden who set up a calculator [4] for such accounts [5].

However, these are not the only possible solutions. A company by the name of ZeroAvia has now announced the sale of smaller 10-20 seater hydrogen powered aircraft starting in 2022 [6]. They are expected to have zero atmospheric emissions, as well as having lower operating and maintenance costs than the current fleet [7]. To date, these aircraft only have a range of 500 miles or about 800 kilometres, but it must be noted that about half of the emissions due to aircraft are caused by flights within just 1000 miles. Therefore, a solution like this provides an opportunity to reduce flight emissions by up to half. The use of such solutions, as well as the reduction in air travel and carbon balance of the flights that are flown, offers a good opportunity to reduce the impact of aircraft emissions in the future.

Swimming across the Atlantic Ocean is therefore probably not the most optimal solution whenever we want to go on a holiday as ideas for solutions to the carbon problem are not in short supply. In order to make sure that future generations will have the opportunity to live under decent conditions, it is important that we think further than tomorrow. We are responsible for our decisions, for being open to innovations such as hydrogen powered aircraft, but also for welcoming traditional green solutions like planting trees.

Translated from Icelandic and originally published on: https://romur.is/a-eg-tha-bara-ad-synda/?fbclid=IwAR2kBK0X15HEsdv64qet-U9ZegsHwTOrY2lOF_Az73n5__sGjzbMrNh3FZ8

Endnotes
[1] https://ordabokin.is/ord/flugviskubit/
[2] https://www.aftonbladet.se/news/a/kJ02rL/trenden-har-vant-flygresanden-minsk
[3] https://kolvidur.is/um-okkur/
[4] https://mpg.is/ffco.html?fbclid=IwAR1zqufLD1iV6yGluGaDS6OAASVIsHgO1tunRKFzw-XEhUPE4KQwjt1cdvE
[5] https://www.visir.is/g/2019190639959
[6] https://www.systemiq.earth/news-1/2019/8/12/emission-free-air-travel-gets-real-systemiq-backs-zeroavia
[7] https://www.zeroavia.com/

Let’s talk about sustainable fashion!

Featuring a tank top I’ve had for almost 10 years!

Recently, as I’ve tried to move towards making my life more sustainable, I’ve become increasingly interested in sustainable fashion. This past weekend I went to a vintage ‘by the kilo’ clothing sale, which was really fun! Although it was not the cheapest, at 40 euros per kilo, I did come home with a couple fun finds.

Thrift shopping challenges

Though I love the idea of buying all of my clothes second-hand, in reality I still encounter a number of challenges when trying to create a sustainable wardrobe. These include:

  • Finding professional looking second-hand pieces that I can wear to work
    • While I love loose, hippie thrifted style for my weekend looks, office wear generally has to be well fitting and shouldn’t look too old…
  • Finding pants that actually fit
    • Related to point one, it’s easier to do loose, mom-jean or tomboyish styles, but finding pants that actually fit well is hard, especially at flea markets where you often can’t try them on
  • Basics like tank tops and underwear, and (usually) shoes
    • As far as I can tell these are things that you always have to buy new… But hopefully from sustainable / conscious brands if you can afford it
    • Although I did get one pair of black high heeled boots secondhand that I love and still wear

Sustainability wins

  • I am pretty good at taking care of the clothes that I do have and wearing them for a long time (Except for that one merino wool sweater that I shrunk in the washing machine… Oops! RIP)
  • I have to admit, I used to be a total fiend for fast fashion, but now I try to avoid or minimise my fast fashion purchases as much as possible
  • I have drastically cut back my shopping in general. When I was younger, I liked to buy a new top at least every month, so that I always had something new to wear, since I was going out all the time. When I went on an extended backpacking trip, I started to develop more minimalist ways, and when I became a masters student my budget certainly didn’t allow me to go shopping. This meant for a couple years, I hardly bought any new clothes, except for what I really, really needed. I preferred to spend my money (and time!) on other activities
  • Now that I’m back to working full time, I do like to look nice when I’m at the office, but I’m also much more conscious about what I buy and what I wear, and the impact that it has. I’m no longer ignorant about the huge impact that the (fast)
  • fashion industry has, and I want to minimise my contribution to that

Moving forward, I hope to be even better about being a minimalist, investing in fewer, higher quality pieces (ideally secondhand!) and being really conscious about everything that I buy.

Have you considered the impact your fashion choices have on the environment?

Looking for more inspiration on sustainable fashion? Check out myethicaledit.com , about living an ethical and sustainable lifestyle, written by a fellow Canadian blogger here in Munich!