Earth Day: Meet Helen Coffey, The Independent’s no-flight Travel Editor

A bold statement!

The Independent is and always has been committed to reporting on and campaigning in the climate space and we have a dedicated team working on our climate hub all year round. However, as the climate crisis affects us all, it’s not just the climate correspondents who have something to say on the matter. Helen Coffey’s environmental pledge caught our attention.

As emissions from cars, planes and other modes of transport continue to be an important part of the climate conversation, we wanted to hear more from Helen Coffey. In her role as The Independent’s Travel Correspondent, you may think that she would be the last person to commit to no-flight travel – but you’d be wrong!

See what she has to say:


  • Tell us about your role at The Independent.

I’m the travel editor – meaning I head up all editorial coverage for our travel section, from setting the day’s news agenda to commissioning and editing colourful destination features and snappy city guides.


  • What is your environmental pledge?

I have pledged to go flight-free for 2022, and will thus be travelling without flying until at least 2023. I took the same pledge in 2020 and 2021, and will likely do so again next year…


  • What does #InvestInOurPlanet mean to you?

To me, it means living with an awareness of the climate crisis and making lifestyle decisions with that in mind. We’re never going to be perfect when it comes to sustainability – but we can’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Engaging with the issues and living with intentionality (for example, by prioritising spending our money with brands which we know balance profit alongside people and planet), rather than putting our heads in the sand and pleading ignorance, is one way we can all invest in our planet.


  • What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to make an environmental change in their day to day lives?

As a travel editor (and enthusiast), I would recommend people really look at the way they currently holiday and consider swapping flying for slow travel options, such as going by train. Not only can it bring loads of benefits – the chance to really see where you’re going, appreciate beautiful landscapes, combine different destinations and experience something different – but reducing the number of flights you take is by far the quickest and easiest way to drastically cut your carbon footprint as an individual.


  • Who inspires you in the sustainability space?

Anna Hughes, the founder and director of Flight Free UK, is a huge inspiration. She encourages people to sign up to stop flying for a year in the hopes that it will spark longer-term behaviour change. She’s worked tirelessly to keep momentum going on this issue, even when the pandemic temporarily dampened many thwarted holidaymakers’ enthusiasm for considering the environmental impact of their travel choices. Thankfully, the campaign is seeing a renewed energy as the world opens back up.

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