To a lot of international students, sustainable living when studying abroad is quite important. This is not surprising as a lot of young adults are becoming increasingly aware of the issues related to climate change. They are aware of their carbon footprint and actively seek ways to reduce it. It is no different when they move to another country.
If you are one of these young adults, then you are in luck. In this article, we have decided to gather the best tips we have found on living sustainably while studying abroad. Whether you are an ecological veteran or someone just starting on their journey to help save the planet, we have no doubt that you will find at least something here that you can take away.
Let us start, then.
Okay, sure, you will probably need to get on an aeroplane in order to successfully reach the place where you will be studying. However, once you are there, choices await you regarding the ways in which you will get around, both in terms of navigating your campus as well as travelling to nearby towns (unless you were planning on just staying in your room and studying).
It should come as no surprise to learn that biking is one of the most sustainable modes of transport. If you can find an affordable way to do this, it would go a long way to help in your mission of sustainable living when studying abroad. Trains are likewise a favourable and often cheaper alternative to buses, so you can save some money while riding in the lap of luxury and saving the planet!
The money we spend has quite a lot to do with our carbon footprint. Whether we invest in cheap, non-degradable plastics or finance unethical forms of labour, the way we shop can make or break our efforts at promoting both cultural and environmental sustainability. This is not to say, however, that you, as a student, must spend your precious money on expensive, 100% ethically sourced clothing or items. Rather, it simply means being more conscious of what places you finance.
It is actually not that difficult to find affordable second-hand or thrift stores that try and recycle clothes. Additionally, looking for local producers of goods ensures that they have been produced without any (or at least minimal) exploitation and that you will not be financing greedy megacorporations. Putting a little bit of extra thought into your purchasing habits could make all the difference.
Sustainable living when studying abroad has a lot to do with the little choices we make in our day-to-day lives. A big part of this is the food we choose to eat. It is a known fact that some foods leave a larger carbon footprint when they are being produced. Even more than that, eating out also presents a variety of options which can impact the overall health of both the planet and the local community.
Although it might be a little difficult to do so as an international student, try to limit the amount of meat you consume on a daily basis. A plant-based diet is both healthier and more environmentally friendly. When deciding on which restaurants to frequent, try and find local mom-and-pop places or at least businesses that put sustainability and green energy at the forefront of their concerns. Also, the farmer’s market and seasonal fruits and veggies are your best friends!
Volunteering is one of the greatest things you can opt for to occupy your time while studying abroad. It has long been known that the best measure against pollution and environmental degradation is the spreading of awareness about these issues. Activism and positive action are great tools at our disposal to get more members of the community thinking about these issues.
Volunteering allows you to take your convictions outside of your private sphere and share them with the wider world. It allows you to make friends while fighting for a cause you believe in. Giving some of your time to a volunteer endeavour can benefit the environment in addition to the community and your resume. Check out the opportunities given by your school or others nearby: Participate in a beach clean-up to prevent the garbage from entering the ocean, or plant carbon-absorbing trees as part of a neighbourhood nature project.
Although we have shared some useful tips for sustainable living when studying abroad, be sure not to forget very basic things such as not littering and remembering to recycle. Likewise, be aware that you do not need to over-focus on just one of these courses of action. You can combine the different approaches we have described and craft your very own, custom approach to living sustainably.
It is not always easy to make lifestyle adjustments when studying abroad so a big part of your efforts need to involve taking care of your own mental health and being gentle on yourself. The point is not to sacrifice your well-being for the sake of your ideals (it is not sustainable!), but rather to find a healthy balance where you can care for the environment while finding time to study, socialize, and, most importantly, have fun!
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