While sick and babbling at you the other day, I mentioned my tickets to New Zealand. Not just the ravings of a madwoman: I have plane tickets to New Zealand.
I’ve always wanted to get out and see the world, but I wanted to pay my own way, and go in as untouristy a manner as possible. So I waited, saved, and assumed a better time would come along. It didn’t, but now I have a passport and a twenty-fifth birthday approaching, and it’s now or never. Well, probably not ‘never’, but definitely later. I emailed an old friend in NZ for some advice a couple weeks ago, and, having been promised hiking and penguins, bought the tickets Sunday.
Let me digress for a moment to direct you to the new link, Cr!key Creek. It’s my kiwi friend’s blog on water issues- focus on NZ, but he gets around. Along with all the other parts of this trip I am completely excited about, hanging out with a dude who’s done so much work on sustainability ranks pretty high.
But see, now I have a dilemma. I’m flying halfway across the world twice. This is a big ol’ suckerpunch to my environmental changes. According to Terrapass, by flying roundtrip from Washington to Auckland, I’m responsible for 7,120 lbs of carbon emissions. That’s like driving my car (Civic Hybrid) around for a year (also according to Terrapass). Actually, hey, I thought it was going to be more like driving a Hummer to the moon. Not feeling quite so guilty now.
Well, either way, that’s a pretty big negative impact on the environment, which I need to do something about (blog being all about channeling the guilt to environmental use, yup yup). But what!?
Rhetorical, I’ve already decided what I’m going to do. But first let’s talk about the “not going” option.
The simplest way to not rack up this carbon guilt is to not go to New Zealand. Stay home, find some pictures of it online, and email the kiwi when I want to chat. Going to New Zealand to bum around and walk on mountains is purely a privileged, selfish act. Money would be better spent donating to local food shelters while I spend the two weeks volunteering to muck out the Anacostia. This is all true. But I don’t feel guilty about that at all: I’m stoked about every part of this trip.
Mine is not an abstemious sustainability. Perhaps you guessed from the frequent Salvation Army trips. I want to do as much and live as well (according to my idea of well) as I can with as little as I can manage it on. I get that lots of environmentalists aren’t comfortable with that balance, and why, but I am. So let’s recap the guilt nuances: trip to NZ, sweet, impact of ghg emissions, lame sauce.
Here’s how I’m going to use this: first, I’m going to offset my carbon. Yup, can’t buy a green conscience, but if I can afford the tickets, I can afford to support serious emissions-reduction programs. I will look for programs that actively remove emissions and donate enough to cover my flight. I’ll report back, of course.
Second, my time in NZ will be spent environmentally. Start with supporting the local economy- no chain hotels or restaurants, no ‘Made in China’ junk for the folks back home. I’m researching B&B’s to stop in along the way. I’ll tread lightly on the mountains- pack in, pack out, pat the trees soothingly, etc. I’ll use public transport as much as possible (apparently they have a great national bus system, so no need to rent a car).
And third, I’m using the promise of this trip as a carrot for my efforts. Literally. I’m going vegetarian, starting as soon as I’m done with the Sha Cha chicken delivery leftovers, until I get on the plane. Doesn’t seem so daunting now- though I will draw a line at pizza (I’ll try for all-veg but if it’s plain cheese or pepperoni only, like I’m locked in a room for 12 hours with nothing but a cheese pizza and a pepperoni pizza, I’m eating the pepperoni, but it’s not going to come to that), and food other people make for me in good faith. If I go home and Dad cooks me shrimp, I’m having some shrimp. (Dad cook me veggies. Mom will help.) But I promise 98.9% vegetarian intake, at least. It’ll be easier with a reward at the end.
So that’s how I’m going to deal with that. For the interactive part of this feature: whatcha think?