Christina Dean, sustainable fashion advocate and founder of Redress and The R Collective, goes head-to-head with 13-year-old climate activist Lance Lau in this month’s great debate

Is Overseas Travel Ever Ethically Sound?

LANCE LAU: NO

Travel can never be ethically sound when we consider the world as one. Humans cannot survive without nature—from animals to trees. When ecosystems are affected [by humans damaging the environment], there is always a chain reaction that we perhaps won’t see immediately but, ultimately, we will feel. Whether it’s local or overseas travel, the act of travelling always affects the environment. Especially when [we travel] just for leisure, we put personal pleasure before the wellbeing of the environment: for example, when giant trees are cut down to build roads for tourists to be driven through the Amazon rainforest, or when exotic birds and animals are sold to zoos as tourist attractions. Even so-called eco-travelling is often just greenwashing to attract neo eco-conscious travellers. You always need to be mindful not only of your carbon emissions but also of your wider impact while travelling overseas.

CHRISTINA DEAN: YES

When heading to the airport, we each fly solo with only our integrity and intelligence as a compass. Whether hitting the beach or boardroom or backpacking, the trip’s ultimate ethics lie in our intentions and actions, which read like a list of verbs: to learn. To engage. To share. To remember. To love. These enriching experiences feed our cultural understanding and our souls, while feeding local economies. Strategic and ethical spending should be the master here. Think locally run restaurants, artisanal shops that support creativity and craft, sustainably run hotels—and to mitigate carbon-belching flights, there is always voluntary carbon offsetting to purchase if your conscience is giving you a ticking off. Ultimately, the kaleidoscope of experiences that are up for grabs feed into the tapestry of our lives. Travel breaks barriers to build a common humanity which shares the same planetary lungs and longing for peace and mutual respect. That, to me, is worth the flight.

 

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