Recently I flew out to my brother’s wedding in Tennessee. I didn’t like the idea of flying…airports, airplanes, and airplane fuel certainly have a great negative impact on the environment…but I didn’t have much time. So, I consoled myself by using the ticket-less boarding passes on my smart phone, and armed with my reusable bottle filled at a water fountain, I refused the tiny little soda cans and plastic cups offered by flight attendants during the one hour flight. On the way to Tennessee, I felt that in spite of flying, I had done my little part to help as much as possible.
On the way back to Maryland, my feeling of environmental stewardship diminished completely. I boarded a plane, took my seat, and right before we took off the pilot chuckled over the intercom, “Well folks, looks like you’ll have plenty of room to spread out. There’s only 32 of you on this airliner that holds 250. Enjoy your ride!” Well, I did not enjoy my ride. I sulked in my seat the entire time, thinking that this plane would burn nearly 4177 gallons of petroleum-based aviation fuel for a one-hour direct flight between Nashville and Baltimore, even though it was nearly empty.
As we flew over the sprawling landscape between the two cities, lights littered the ground beneath us…as well as highways and roads, factories, water treatment plants, and so on. Makes you think, “Is bigger, better, and higher-tech really all that great? Do I really need a row of six empty seats next to me to make me comfortable?” For the first time ever I wished that there were tons of babies screaming, men snoring everywhere, and chatty passengers that refuse to let you sleep filling the plane. Anything would have been better than the silence, which reminded me over and over that we can be so wasteful.
When I got home, I couldn’t wait to board a cramped metro car at rush hour.
Stephanie works at MOMs Rockville.