Musician Stefan Sundström dislikes both consumption and indebtedness and loves to grow tomatoes. He himself has completely stopped flying and promises to recruit politician Gustav Fridolin to Flight Free 2019.
Stefan Sundström's interest in gardening first made him understand the seriousness of climate change. He says that the more he learns about the life of the plants, the more he realises how much food production - the basis of our existence - is threatened by climate change.
“The more I learn about soil and so on, the more I care about the climate. That's the big threat. There are a lot of other things that we have to do something about, but if we do nothing about the climate, then none of the other stuff matters.”
Stronger experiences without flying
Stefan declared that he would no longer fly in a debate article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter back in 2018, along with several others. Despite always having felt uncomfortable about flying he still used to fly a lot, especially when the children were small.
“We flew to Crete, and we also did some longer trips, to Senegal, Cuba and India. It was pretty cool, but I am happy to give it up, considering the climate situation. With such terrible predictions about the future of the planet, it is the obvious choice for me not to fly. "
It is three years since Stefan last flew, but he had already begun to reduce the amount he flew before that. As a musician he has travelled extensively in Scandinavia, especially in Northern Norway. He feels that not flying has enabled him to see much more.
“I played at a festival on the Varanger peninsula, which lies almost in Murmansk, that is, northeastern Norway at the Barents Sea. It took four days to get there! It was such a cool journey. Not flying is not just about the climate, but also about the experience - travelling overland feels so much richer.”
Stefan thinks that flying is like watching a TV show. You step into a tin can at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and then step out into a completely different location.
"The smells are completely different, it's another temperature, people look different, everything is different. Then you are there for fourteen days, step into the tin can and end up in the same place at Arlanda again. It doesn't feel like reality.
Taking the train through Europe, you get a physical feeling that the world is three-dimensional. I understand how far things are: from Sweden to Sicily it's 3000 kilometers. I feel in my body how far that is. It's almost a sensual sense of presence that you lose when you fly.”
Nowadays, Stefan is more concerned with writing and growing tomatoes than with music.
“I'm not writing that many songs anymore. I write books and articles in various newspapers. I have become more intellectual. Writing music is more about the feeling.”
Not that he’s trying to impose his ideas on others or get on his high horse, but rather influence others through writing about his experiences.
“Never having had a regular salary has reduced my consumption and encouraged me to be careful with money,” says Stefan, who is approaching 60. Many at his age are worried that they will hardly get any pension. “Neither will I, but I live in a fully paid house and I have a garden that provides me with a lot of vegetables. I can manage being quite poor financially. "
Stefan wants to talk about how to be sustainable, rather than writing about how worried he is about the state of the world.
“I feel damn good about not consuming so much. Since I was fifteen years old, I have thought that consumption is just bullshit.The Hippies were right,” laughs Stefan.
What do you think about the Flight Free 2019 campaign?
“I think it is important to be as broad as possible, just as you are being in this campaign. When you do something that is morally good, you risk getting a "goodness stamp". It is important not to be elitist in this. For example, I’ve been a heavy smoker since 1973, and I don’t like it. It is important to be open. I don’t believe in making people feel guilty.”
Are you yourself trying to recruit to the campaign?
I'll meet Gustav Fridolin (a Swedish politician) on Monday and then I'll get him onboard. I'll force him, write that!Translated by Ingrid Hesser and Anna Hughes
We Stay on the Ground
We Stay on the Ground