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The rise of “flying shame” points to a blind spot in conscious consumerism

Air travel
AP/Yves Herman
“Flying shame” on the horizon?
  • Rosie Spinks
By Rosie Spinks

Quartzy Reporter

It’s a phrase so obvious it’s surprising that it’s only just entered the lexicon: “flying shame,” as it’s been dubbed in Sweden, or the feeling that jetting off to far away places is something to be ashamed of in the age of climate change.

And it’s not just an attitude but, increasingly for Swedes, a consumer choice. A survey conducted by WWF found that 23% of Swedes had chosen not to fly in the last year to reduce their impact on the climate. A further 18% had opted for rail travel over planes for the same reason.

But the phrase is notable precisely because it’s a sentiment that doesn’t seem widespread. As the idea of conscious consumerism has become nothing short of mainstream in affluent consumers’ lives over the past decade, there’s been one notable blind spot: getting on a plane. It’s not hard to find people who have changed their diet to one that’s more environmentally friendly, who drive a hybrid vehicle, or who seek out clothing and household products made from sustainable materials. But it’s much rarer to find someone that says: “I’m not going on vacation or traveling for work this year—it’s bad for the environment.”

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