On Saturday 11th we hosted an event dedicated to Rethinking Travel in the Climate Crisis at Gaia's Garden, London’s newest community garden championing sustainable practises.
The panel talk featured diverse voices from the travel industry:Holly Tuppen, author of Sustainable Travel: The Essential Guide to Positive Impact Adventures, Love Ssega, a climate justice activist and musician, and Savanna Smalls, a traveller who focuses on off-grid and low-impact trips. With over 100 attendees and DJ sets from some of London’s finest, we raised money for Choked Up, an organisation run by Black and Brown teens living in London areas affected by air pollution.
With a growing number of forest fires, hurricanes, abnormal weather patterns, floods, sometimes it can feel like the last thing we want to do is travel. Tourism alone is responsible for 8-12% of the world’s carbon emissions, primarily through aviation. Increased economic development and affordability have made travel even more accessible, and this percentage is only set to rise. To put this into context, a flight from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger - there are 56 countries where the average person emits less carbon dioxide in a whole year.
The concept of the individual carbon footprint was first popularised by BP in the early 2000s, setting a precedent of individual assessments of our impact on the climate and successfully diverting attention from the most drastic polluters. Among the activities touted as being most harmful to the environment is travel by air, which has lead to modern flight-free stances and carbon offsetting schemes. But, as we discovered in our talk, these can be part of a greater system of greenwashing, one that seeks to protect the reputation of companies by conveying an illusion of development and growth.
To address these misconceptions and celebrate the evolving face of the travel industry, we hosted a takeover of Gaia’s Garden, London’s newest community garden. Built to educate Londoners about sustainability and to be utilised as a communal space, Gaia’s Garden has become a home to an ever-changing selection of workshops, talks, musical performances and much more.
For our event, Kiss of Wine very kindly provided us with chilled rosé cans for our attendees to enjoy throughout the sunny afternoon and warm evening. Kiss of Wine is a sustainable wine company, selling canned wine from independent winemakers. Canned wine has a carbon footprint that is 2.5 times less than that of a traditional bottle of wine, which allowed us to reimagining the future of wine on the day whilst rethinking the future of travel!
We began the evening with a panel discussion on the topic of Rethinking Travel in the Climate Crisis, hosted by our very own co-founder, Kesang Ball. As opposed to traditional panels, we set up the Garden to create an intimate circle of conversation positioning panellists at eye-level with the crowd. Here, we hoped to create a sense of community and open discussion that was mutually beneficial to the speakers and participants. For our panel, we invited:
A musician and campaigner for climate justice. He founded Clean Bandit and has recently founded his very own Black electronic music label, Bomba Bomba. Currently, he is also part of EarthPercent, an initiative that looks to decrease the negative climate contributions of the music industry.
A model and MMA fighter. She’s also the travel presenter for our forthcoming travel series. Her interests as a traveller lie in culturally immersive and purposeful travel.
A travel and sustainability expert. She recently published the book Sustainable Travel: The Essential Guide to Positive Impact Adventures, a Trippin favourite. She’s done a lot to popularise concepts of positive-impact travel and also travelled the world flight-free!
If you missed our panel, don’t worry, you can listen to it here. We brought together a range of forward-thinking and well-informed speakers to represent as many approaches to travel as possible so it’s a great opportunity to explore topics that don’t get much coverage.
Following the conversation, we had DJ sets from Sam Blenk, Samatar and Sippin’ T. This evening was also an opportunity for us to raise money for Choked Up, a movement led by Black and Brown teens to raise awareness about pollution levels across London.
Through our takeover of Gaia’s Garden, we were able to explore the future of travel alongside our community. By encouraging our attendees to see climate pessimism as a barrier to progress, we’re hoping to reclaim control over our futures by holding the right institutions and industries accountable instead of giving up hope before time is up. The future is in our hands.
Thank you to our friends at Gaia's Garden for helping us make this takeover happen.
Photography by River Solace.