Last Christmas, we tweeted a suggestion from one of our supporters: ‘Why not use your Christmas cards to spread the word?’
Our team member Maggie decided to do just that. Here's what happened:
I was a bit nervous about trying it, because no one wants to make their friends feel bad at Christmas (or at any other time of year). I thought some people might be annoyed or defensive. Would they think I was judging them? Would it seem like I was exploiting our friendship?
So I tried to keep it light. In with each card I put one of our slightly scary Flight Free leaflets ('10 years to save the planet!’), and wrote a note by hand saying that I had pledged myself, but my partner hadn’t, so ‘no pressure’.
The response I got surprised and delighted me. People who for years had been not much more to me than a name on a card wrote back saying how worried they were about the climate and how much they appreciated what I was doing. Several said that they rarely or never flew anyway. Only two families undertook to pledge there and then, but a couple more said they would if they could, and one or two told me about what they were planning to do instead, such as swap their car for an electric one. If anyone was annoyed they were too nice to say so.
"People who for years had been not much more than a name on a card wrote back saying how much they appreciated what I was doing."
As a result I felt more connected to our friends than ever. Perhaps it’s never wrong to share something you really care about. While Christmas is not the time for self denial, many people feel uneasy about all the over-the-top Christmas consumption. The new year looms in front of us, reminding us of our hopes and fears for the future, and offering a chance for a fresh start.
"I felt more connected to our friends than ever. Perhaps it’s never wrong to share something you really care about."
Of course 2020 turned out very differently from what we expected, and I expect some of the people who told me about their planned trips will have been flight free after all. I’m going to mention it again in my Christmas cards this year, but I haven’t quite decided how. Perhaps I’ll just use the hashtag #FlightFree2021. Now our friends know a bit more about me, I’m sure no further explanation is needed.