Make Good Choices

How many of us have heard that instruction passed from parent to offspring as the child faces a crossroad or new situation? We say, “Make good choices!” to a new driver transporting friends for the first time, to a teen going to their first party, to a college freshman.

For many of us, our awareness of sustainability issues is in its adolescent phase. We’re informed about some things, but we don’t know everything, and we are still learning the far-reaching consequences of our behaviors. Here are some considerations and tips that can help us choose wisely when planning a trip or moving abroad:

– Be mindful about what you pack or ship, from clothes to furniture. Heavy and bulky items require more transportation space, leading to a larger carbon footprint.
– Take direct flights whenever possible. This reduces carbon emissions over trips with connections.
– Book a train, if possible. Planes can produce twice as much carbon emissions as trains, depending on flight duration and other factors.
– Consider your local transportation options, such as personal vehicle – gas powered vs. hybrid or electric – and walking, biking, rideshare, or public transit.

– When choosing a home, look for features that help you conserve. These include both green touches within the home and transit impact from distance to work and school.
LEED certification is a globally recognized standard for sustainable building practices. The LEED rating system can steer you toward responsible choices.
– Do local accommodations offer energy choices like solar or wind power?
– Adhere to local recycling and waste collection practices that support sustainability.
– Consolidate and reuse wherever possible.
– Consider low-energy, low-water appliances like clothes washing machines and dishwashers.

– Consider your real needs before buying.
– Choose fresh locally sourced food whenever possible, both to support local suppliers and to reduce carbon emissions produced by transportation.
– Consolidate trips, whenever possible, to reduce travel while shopping multiple stores.
– When ordering online, consolidate purchases to reduce shipment frequency.
– Make purchase choices based on low-impact packaging and reuse whenever possible. Some merchants offer carbon offsets for shipping.
– For frequently used items like laundry detergent and shampoo, look for refill options rather than single-use disposable packaging.
– Seek out second-hand items.

Some of the larger decisions we make while traveling or moving can have significant environmental impact. And smaller steps, adopted as habits, also make a big difference over time. Our sustainability knowledge will continue to grow as we participate more fully in thoughtful practices.

Take advantage of Living Abroad’s helpful list of global Sustainability resources, as well as our growing country-specific content to help travelers and new residents make sustainable choices.


Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group