The 2007 Flight. It looks better from the outside.

We’re working on reducing the crud our lifestyle pumps out into the environment: we use a car about twice a year, and in between we travel long distance by rail, and locally by bus or bike. We’re sourcing more food locally and trying to avoid things that require lots of transport, and we’re looking at possibilities for eco-friendly housing (of which more anon). We’ve two areas that we can’t reduce much at the moment: the flat we live in is an environmental disaster (we’re looking for another) and that at some point we have to go to the UK and Japan to visit our families, or they have to come to visit us, so we have to make a long haul flight to Japan every two to three years, with all the pollution it causes.

It’s one thing to eschew the cheap airlines and go to the UK by train, but Japan is a bit more difficult to find an alternative. We know this because we’ve looked at every other possibility we can find. Travelling by cargo ship is one option, but it takes several weeks to get to Japan via the Indian Ocean. Going west may be quicker if we travel overland across the US or Canada, but cargo shipping lines won’t take children under 6, so that will have to wait at least another four years. The man on seat 61 advises the Trans-Siberian Express is a possibility, but again this looks impossible with a large family if the experiences this traveller are anything to go by. Getting almost left behind by the train is a potential adventure for single backpackers, but could be terrifying with small children.

So, unless we find some other way we haven’t thought of, it looks like it’s back to the government subsidised, polluting aircraft, and about 14 hours in a sardine tin. And I won’t be able to join the bike tour that’s being planned for August.

On the other hand, if a long-haul flight makes roughly the same impact as driving for a year then we are still pretty low overall on the crudometer, as we don’t drive for most of the rest of the time. On top of that (and I know this is pretty selfish thinking) we get to travel about in Japan in August, and I get to see my two nieces, and eat my mother-in-laws cooking. You’ll probably get me rambling about both…