If you - like me - absolutely love to travel this might have already, or it soon will, cross your mind. Traveling has some many faces: Excitement & love, challenges & growth, friendship & laughter, loneliness & fear. It’s a great teacher – but is it a sustainable way of life?
Aligning with more sustainable habits
It’s easy to point fingers when talking about traveling and flying. At the same time it's hard to be “politically correct” in todays society. The short answer to the question whether traveling is a sustainable way of life, could be a simple ’no’. But I’ll explore that ’no’ just a little bit through this article.
Perhaps you - like me - have been aligning your life with more sustainable habits as you’ve reacted to how our often destructive, often unconscious, behaviour is f*cking up our dear planet.
- Maybe you’ve cut down on eating meat or completely took that out of your diet.
- Maybe you’re using less plastic by saying no to straws and bringing your own bag to the supermarket.
- Is that oat milk in your latte instead of the good old cow version?
- You’re going to second hand stores realising that you don’t need the newest version of everything and that five t-shirts - not fifty - is enough.
- I have to admit, it feels good to align with these habits, I feel lighter in my mind, body and spirit from all the de-cluttering, both on my plate and in my closet.
Some changes comes naturally – others don't
But I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Some changes come naturally and when they don’t, turning a blind eye wont solve the matter. It’s always hard changing a habit. Even though change is the most natural thing, it’s one of the things we resist the most.
When writing this I’m sitting in my lofty shorts and with no shirt on a beautiful island in the Andaman Sea. Trainings and work opportunities brought me here, and unlike my friend Eva Eriksson who rode a bike around the planet I didn’t bike here - I flew.
As a freelancing Yoga teacher and massage therapist many of the happenings I’m interested in takes place all around the world. When earlier this year I was taking one of those ‘How-much-carbon-dioxide-do-you-emit’ tests I - not entirely un-smug - answer the lowest alternative to most questions, then came the final question: How many hours did you fly during last year?
Turns out flying brings up your carbon footprint quite a bit.
I’m currently being torn between the urge to learn exiting techniques and meeting inspiring people around the world and staying put in Sweden, simply for the sake of not adding to my carbon footprint. Especially I feel a responsibility as a yoga teacher, often talking in my classes about different aspects of Ahimsa (non-violence) and aparigraha (non-greed). And if we don’t practice, we should not preach - don’t judge a man until you’ve walked in his shoes.
Traveling inspires and engages
As the years have passed, flying has become vastly more efficient than it used to be, but at the same time the amount of people flying has increased dramatically. Should we be worried? Well yes. I think we should. But should we ’say no’ to flying? This could potentially be a really, really long discussion but I’ll keep it short here.
Rather than pretending it’s not a problem I like to bring it up for discussion and bring it into light and I welcome your opinion as well. I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the most inspiring people out there; pioneers in taking on environmental and cultural problems. Whether it's building sustainable housing, cleaning the oceans from plastic, building support groups for abused women, these people have gotten there by going out into the world and taking action.
Traveling does this splendidly. It inspires, it motivates, it engages. I’ve seen this again and again.
In this day and age when we’re seriously planning manned missions to Mars and where cars, (and soon probably airplanes) drive themselves, I think the necessary step is not one backwards, but forward with awareness.
If we bring awareness and openness into the discussion, we have a chance to strive forward looking for possible solutions to the issue rather than losing ourselves in a game of pointing fingers – It’s their fault! No problem has ever been solved by pointing out whose fault it is - instead, take ownership.
Bringing awareness into your actions
I keep coming back to that - like with everything - we should watch our behaviour. “Why am I doing this” is always a great question to ask yourself. Do I really need this thing or this experience or could I reach the desired feeling in another, more sustainable way? Simply by bringing awareness into your actions you’ll naturally make wiser - and closer to heart decisions. And sometimes the answers will be a little uncomfortable.
Recently for me this came in the form of an offer to teach in Costa Rica at a yoga/surf camp for a month. It all sounded great with a beautiful Shala overlooking the ocean but going twelve time zones away, to do this I would have to cross half the face of planet earth, for a single month...I simply couldn’t justify it. I had to say no.
Just like with your closet where cluttered shelves will just drain your energy, one or two trips with purpose might serve you better than ten different ones simply because you can.
A mantra that truly resonates with me comes to mind; less is more. I’d like to take a stand for doing what you can and doing your best without telling people what they should do. You can’t teach anyone anything, they have to do that themselves.
I think it’s possible that people I’ve come to know on my travels with the world as their work place contribute less to global warming than a typical urban citizen. Especially if you take into account the accumulated effects in the long run, thinking for generations to come not only how it effects us today.
Giving back more than you’re using in the long run is the key, and remember, there are many ways to give and only you know which way is best for you. And how will you know if you don’t get out there and try. See which ones you fail at, which ones you're better at, try them again and gradually find your own gift to give this world. Growth only comes through experience, you can't skip the experience.
- Managing hardship through connection, by Eleonora Ramsby Herrera.
- A farewell to emotional harms, by Frida Starvid.
- Breathe life into your life - part 1, by Ulrica Norberg.
About Stefan Ericsson
As a full-time freelancing Yoga Teacher and massage therapist Stefan wholeheartedly dedicates his time to learning about the human body and how we with playfulness can tap into our own inherent power. From the Himalayas to Hawaii he has collected inspiration from the cultures encountered along the way and today he teaches a style that respects, plays with, and challenges all body types.
Yoga has been a mayor influencer to the way Stefan lives his life today. All areas of life including the way he eats, dresses, dances & moves. Sharing this with his students is a true gift, and seeing all the different ways the knowledge impacts people from all walks of life is nothing short of amazing. The styles of practice that appeals to him the most is hatha, yin and vinyasa for those days you just want to play and sweat. If you want to know more about where Stefan teaches you can find his classes here or follow him at Instagram.