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IH Alumnus Goes Around the World - Without a Plane!

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I-House alumnus Anirvan Chatterjee (IH 1998) and his wife Barnali Ghosh couldn't believe their eyes when they calculated their carbon footprint online. Though the couple is vegetarian and had given up their car a decade earlier, their carbon footprint was higher than that of 90 percent of Americans. The culprit? Air travel.

 

IH Alumnus Anirvan Chatterjee (right) and wife Barnali Ghosh photographed in China by the Great Wall during their Year of Travel with No Planes.

IH Alumnus Anirvan Chatterjee (right) and wife Barnali Ghosh photographed in China by the Great Wall during their Year of Travel with No Planes.


Ghosh, a landscape architect, and Chatterjee, founder of BookFinder.com, make a trip from their home in Berkeley to visit their families in India once a year. They did some calculations and realized that the round-trip flight to India, which produced seven metric tons of carbon dioxide, was cancelling out their car-free year, which saved five metric tons of carbon dioxide.

"It's the equivalent of exercising and dieting every day. Then on Dec. 31, you have a 200,000-calorie dessert and ruin the whole year," Chatterjee says.
The couple asked themselves: Could they go for a year without flying?
To bring attention to air travel's impact on the environment, Ghosh and Chatterjee decided to embark on a trip around the world without setting foot on a plane, chronicling their travels on their blog at www.yearofnoflying.com.

Nine months later, in September 2009, they drove up to Seattle, where they boarded a container ship headed to Yokohama, Japan. A popular way for European retirees to travel, container ships actually offer accommodations and meals for 100 euro a day.

Over 12 months, the couple visited 56 cities in 14 countries, including China, Turkey, Russia and Italy, and rode only one car, two containers ships, three ferries, 16 buses and 39 trains. They spoke to people affected by climate change on their journey, as well as individuals working on sustainable solutions to the climate crisis; from climate-vulnerable fishermen in Bangladesh to a teenage climate activist in Vietnam.

Since returning to the Bay Area last August, Ghosh and Chatterjee are working on an international aviation justice campaign to make air travel more sustainable and offer environmentally and socially responsible alternatives to flying. They recommend calculating the climate impact of your own travels at TripFootprint.com.