View all posts

Tips on talking about a socially awkward topic

It can be difficult to speak to your friends and family about not flying when it challenges people’s thoughts and behaviours. Here are some tips that might help engage those around you.

FlightFree UK
31 Jan 2019 2 min read

Two women sit at a bar, each drinking a coffee. They are turned towards each other and talking. One of them has a surprised facial expression and is about to eat a biscuit.

Make it personal

People relate to personal stories and are likely to be engaged by your passion for the subject, rather than gloomy climate forecasts or scary statistics. Talk about why not flying, or flying less, is important to you. Tell a story about a flight-free holiday you have had.

Keep it positive

Try to avoid negative or guilt-inducing language. Talk about how taking action on issues such as this can make a positive impact: we can make a difference with our actions; we will leave a better world for our children if we take action now; not flying doesn't mean not travelling; this isn't about giving something up, it's about doing things differently for the benefit of future generations; being one of 100,000 making a change is very empowering.

Ask questions rather than challenge

Someone has just mentioned their forthcoming trip to Lanzarote. You could stay quiet while others ooh and aah about the holiday. You could say, ‘But flying is really bad for the environment’. How about asking, ‘Do you know the carbon footprint of the flight?' or 'Would you give up flying for a year for the sake of the environment?’ It opens the debate without causing hackles to rise. It doesn't attack the planned holiday, but talks about future travel. It could lead people to ask, ‘Why?’ which allows further conversation, can open the concept of a flight-free year, and gives the opportunity to talk about environmental issues.

Have a few facts up your sleeve

Some general facts, such as one long-haul flight being the equivalent of driving for a year, could add punch to your conversation. If we are to follow IPCC guidelines, our individual carbon output needs to be reduced to between 2 and 3 tonnes per year. Flying to Gran Canaria emits 1 tonne of CO2 – half your annual allowance!

Remember that the challenge is only for a year

We're not asking people to stop flying for good. This challenge is the aviation equivalent of 'Stoptober', where people give up smoking, or 'Veganuary', where animal products are off the menu. Even frequent fliers could challenge themselves to try different methods of transport for one year – and this might be the incentive they need!

Have courage!

Don’t assume that people don’t care about this. Assume that everyone would be prepared to fight for the climate if they knew what was at stake. By having an easy-going conversation, it’s possible to discuss those issues in a non-judgmental way. People might be more receptive than you think.

Other posts

Take the flight free pledge today!