Skip to navigationSkip to content
Air travel
AP/Yves Herman
“Flying shame” on the horizon?
IT'S A FLYING SHAME

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

Rosie Spinks
Member exclusive by Rosie Spinks

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.”

You’re reading a Quartz member exclusive

Katherine Bell
By Katherine Bell

Editor-in-chief at Quartz

Dear Quartz readers,

How are you holding up in these strange, difficult times? As we face this new global crisis together, Quartz’s reporters in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the US can help you see beyond the immediate emergency. We’ll explain the potential impact on every aspect of the global economy, put incomplete data in context, help you work in a new way, and consider how we might all contribute to building a more humane and resilient economy.

Please consider supporting our work by becoming a member of Quartz. As a member, you’ll get complete access to Quartz, including all of our analysis on the consequences of coronavirus; exclusive field guides on everything from batteries to senior living to why startups fail; and award-winning video series like Because China. We know you’re likely to be involved in helping the world get past this crisis, and we’ll be here to support you and your work in every way we can.

Take care, and thank you for reading.

Katherine