10 eco-friendly ways to study abroad
Tips and tricks to keep the planet and yourself happy while exploring foreign lands.
Sunday, July 11, 2010 - 01:13
FOREIGN CURRENCY: Save your money for fun adventures abroad, like backpacking or seeing volcanoes. (Photo: Calaggie/Flickr)
Studying abroad is seen as one of the tally marks of being in college. However, traveling and being in a new place can be nerve-racking. Don't forget to keep your environmentally friendly standards when you go, either through eco-travel or other simple ways.
1) Offset your carbon emissions
Taking a plane is usually necessary to get to where you are studying, but flying is one of the most unfriendly travel plans. Paying to offset your emissions is one option — however, a New York Times article states that these might only aggravate the problem. Still, paying helps with certain projects aimed at reducing global warming, and you could always plant a tree of your own.
2) Bring things you need (that don't need to be thrown away)
Packing light has been told to travelers a thousand times over. Only bringing things you need is a great way to make sure you aren't polluting any more than you should. (The weight from extra items increases the load on your airplane, requiring the use of more fuel and therefore creating more emissions.)
Throwing things away is always a bad alternative to recycling. In other countries, you may not know where they recycle (or if they do at all!), so making sure to only bring things that are necessary is key, as is making sure you don't need to throw the rest away. If you do choose to bring things such as Ziploc bags, try to reuse them.
3) Take public transportation (or better yet, bike or walk!)
Some countries have outstanding transportation, so utilizing these is a must for the eco-conscious. Buses, metros, ferries, biking or walking are great ways to get around, see the city, town or country you are visiting, without huge fees. Sharing taxis is also a way to not utilize singular transportation in countries where you might feel uncomfortable using other public transportation.
4) Buy local products
Supporting the economy of the country you are visiting is one way to meet those who live there full time. Buying locally not only lets you experience your host country, but also introduces you to things that originate there that aren't flown in from other places around the world, from certain handbags, to ponchos, to food. This brings us to number five:
5) Eat traditional foods
Eating your country's tried and true recipes not only will help you adapt to the culture, but also minimizes the chance of the food having to travel from hundreds of miles away. Typically, traditional foods are made from ingredients that originate in the area, so you are not only expanding your horizons, but are promoting local, healthy eating as well!
6) Take a class on sustainability
While going abroad is more than just about taking classes, having the chance to take one on environmental concerns, such as environmental science, sustainability or eco-tourism, is a way to get credit and learn more about how you can help the planet.
7) Leave no trace
While abroad, visiting places such as parks, mountains and beaches is a great way to get to know the country. Making sure to leave nature as you left it is essential to keeping the environment clean. By respecting your host country, you not only help lower your impact but can impress nationals who might otherwise have stereotypical biases toward foreigners.
8) Support local, eco-friendly businesses
While studying abroad, you may find yourself staying either with a host family or living in student housing. When you go to explore your new country, promoting businesses like green hostels, nature reserves, eco-tourist destinations and sustainable businesses is a great way to meet new people, see their culture and help the environment. By visiting places like this, you not only gain great experiences but your financial support helps keep them running, and you're supporting and encouraging businesses that practice environmental stewardship.
9) Recycle your textbooks
When taking classes abroad, try not to bring them from home. Try to buy them used once you've arrived in your host country, and make sure to sell them back or donate them to a friend who will be taking the same class after you. Fewer textbooks = fewer trees cut down.
10) Stay longer!
Staying longer means fewer plane fumes in the air, which is a great incentive to extend your study abroad from a summer to a semester or from a semester to a year. Traveling less means more time absorbing the language and culture, and less time polluting. Just remember to use Skype to stay in touch with your friends and families!
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