Study abroad raises many sustainability considerations. Consider how you can continue your commitment to sustainability while abroad.
In addition to considering sustainable practices to incorporate while abroad, you may wish to consider further impacts on and ways to engage with host communities on our Host Community Engagement page.
Questions to Ask
- What are sustainability considerations that impact the well-being of your host community?
- What impacts do you and fellow students and programs overall have on local environments and communities over the short and long term?
- What sustainability practices do tour agencies and businesses utilize? (e.g. what do they do with garbage generated, do they recycle, who do they employ, who is the agency owned by)
- Are there local alternatives to experiences you are participating in or industries you are providing money to? (e.g. locally-owned accommodations and restaurants, local guides, and locally produced products)
- Are there alternative transportation options or ways to offset the necessary mode of transportation? See the Transportation Considerations section for more.
Learn about Sustainability in Your Host Country
Food and Water Considerations
- By eating local food and dining at local restaurants you can support your host community’s economy while also learning about the culture through food.
- Consider visiting local farmer’s markets. It can be a great way to support local farmers, try new foods, and, if your host country speaks a language other than English, a great way to practice your language skills.
- Slow Food International is a global movement committed to sustaining local food cultures and traditions.
- Volunteer on an organic farm through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). WWOOFing is a great way to learn about your host country’s foodways while also building relationships with the local community.
- Water shortages and access to safe, clean drinking water are a concern in many countries. Learn about your own water usage and strategies to use water sparingly through the Water Footprint Network.
- Consider using a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water. Always check the water safety of your host country before drinking tap water.
- Airplanes produce massive amounts of ozone-depleting carbon dioxide. Consider offsetting the carbon emissions produced through air travel: TerraPass, CarbonFund, Native Energy.
- Consider traveling to the airport using public transportation or shuttle services instead of driving alone.
- While abroad, consider alternative transportation options, such as walking, biking, and public transportation. Always remember to research safety concerns related to these different modes of travel in your host country.
- Consider renting a bike to run errands or explore. Over 700 cities around the world now offer bike-sharing programs. Use this bike share map to discover opportunities near you.
- SustainNU: Northwestern's Office of Sustainability provides resources for minimizing your ecological footprint, including strategies for transportation, recycling, and energy conservation.
- 350.org: 350 is a global grassroots environmental movement active in over 180 countries. Learn how to get involved in your host country.
- The United Nations offers an overview of the many things you can do to make an impact with The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World.
- Impact Travel Alliance offers resources for traveling sustainably.