Rotterdam – Felix Leenders’ activistic approach to his project, which aims to change the traveller’s behaviour, drew our attention and led to his selection for The Challenge.
You disapprove of the way we travel.
FELIX LEENDERS: Absolutely. Today we fly without a thought to destinations within Europe that are easily accessible by train. Doing so contributes to global warming, which subsequently erodes our holiday destinations or even destroys them. We influence the places we visit by our own behaviour. We ought to be aware of what we’re doing.
Sustainability is a big yet elusive problem; in my country, the Netherlands, we hardly seem to be bothered by it
How would you create more awareness?
Sustainability is a big yet elusive problem. In my country, the Netherlands, we hardly seem to be bothered by it. The first step to improving the situation is to realize that the problem exists. It’s essential for us as humans to know what kind of impact we’re making on the planet. This idea led to what I call ‘awareness travel’. End of the World Travel, the graduation project I presented at the Willem de Kooning Academy, is an agency – with accompanying website – that organizes trips to places specifically selected to raise awareness of our impact on the climate. These excursions show travellers the results of their activities in a very tangible way. Most importantly, they have to be booked now, because the locations I’ve chosen have an expiration date.
Locations such as...
The polluted city of Krakow, Spain’s growing desert, melting glaciers across the Alps, and the sinking city of Venice.
But don’t these trips cause even more pollution?
Trips offered by End of the World Travel are exclusively by train. Travel by plane has by far the greatest impact on our climate. The airline industry continues to grow at an enormous rate, owing in part to the use of tax-free fuel, a perk that mindlessly ignores the environment and thus humanity itself. Train travel is the alternative in terms of CO2 emissions. A train can carry a lot of passengers and is a relatively quick means of transport. What’s more, it allows us to really experience the journey. Travellers can take in the surroundings while also avoiding jet lag.
In addition, certain activities on the programme encourage participants to give something back. Visitors to Venice, for example, can help to design a dike or to repair the city’s canals.