As I am scrolling through my social media feed (with fast internet here in Switzerland!), I come across many posts and articles about 2019 being the year of flight shaming and travelling becoming the worst of all activities. Before I left for Indonesia, there were many demonstrations in the streets all over Europe (and the rest of the world) about ecology and young people urging their governments to take action to protect the environment.
And there I was, ready to work for a dive resort at the other end of the world, trying to get people to travel thousands of kilometers to come and stay with us. I must say, this did bother me in the beginning as I am thoroughly convinced we need to change our habits to save our planet. And yet I am comfortable working for Raja4Divers now because I know, we are doing the best we can to run an eco-friendly resort: traditional wooden bungalows, no energy-consuming air conditioning, water-saving mandis instead of showers, etc.
But what’s more important is the fact that our visitors experience the beautiful nature of Raja Ampat first hand and realize how important it is to protect this jewel. When we have our coffee break between two dives on a beautiful little island that seems completely untouched, we often find a lot of plastic waste washed ashore from the sea, so our guests witness the problems we face here one-on-one. We usually take out the garbage bags we always bring along on our dive boats and start cleaning up the beach together with our guests. But we all know there will be more waste next time we come. And this makes you go back home and live more consciously so that our children may still be able to experience the beauty our planet has to offer in the years to come. At least I felt like this after the first time I came to Pulau Pef. I went home and increased my efforts to try and reduce waste even more wherever possible.
I read that the travel industry is responsible for 8% of the global carbon emissions and air travel accounts for 2.5% of total emissions – with forecasts predicting this could triple by 2050. So yes, flying is probably the worst you can do in terms of carbon footprint. But not only leisure travel is to blame. What about all the business trips for just one meeting you probably could have done via Skype or video conference? And how about not flying to a far away destination just for the weekend? I love travelling and would be jetting around the world constantly if I gave in to my impulses without second thoughts. But I have learned to choose more carefully where and how I travel. And I think this is the way to go. In my opinion, flying once a year to your dream destination is probably less harmful than 3 city trips over the weekend. But when back home, we will all need to reduce our carbon footprint in our everyday life as well.
It’s going to be a combination of things that will make the change for our planet. Travelling and especially flying is one important aspect, but there are many others. To experience nature as we still have it in Raja Ampat makes you want to protect it and this, I am convinced, will help people to make the extra effort to change their lives accordingly.
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…