Sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with your usual sustainability-related routines or behaviors when traveling abroad. Not all countries have sustainability procedures and initiatives similar to Santa Clara University and the broader Bay Area. Here are a few tips to keep up with sustainable habits during travel and study abroad.
Reduce your consumption wherever you go. Simple living is the best bet when traveling; unnecessary waste will not be produced if we strive for this way of life. By reducing your consumption, you reduce the waste you produce. This includes buying less, using less energy, and minimizing the amount of stuff you use or carry around with you while traveling. One example is to pack snacks for planes or trains instead of buying them at the airport or station. Additionally, when considering souvenirs, make sure to buy reasonable and useful gifts for family back home and try to only buy presents for a selected number or people.
Reuse your products and goods wherever you travel. Make sure to bring reusable water bottles and coffee cups with you to avoid one-time-use to-go containers, as well extra reusable bags for purchases or to separate luggage items.
Recycling may be more difficult when abroad...in the traditional sense of tossing a product or packaging in the recycling bin. Some countries may not have a designated recycling bin in public areas. Instead, try upcycling products or trading with friends before eventually putting it in a landfill bin. If you're truly determined to find a recycling bin, hold on to it and use it in a creative way on your trip until you do find one. It only takes a tiny bit of research of the country’s sustainability policies to know if there will be recycling bins at your destination. If you know you are travelling to an area without recycling, try to take goods that can be reused multiple times before discarding them into the landfill.
Respect other countries' sustainability efforts. All across the world, local governments and organizations are working towards their own sustainability policies and program goals. Processes and infrastructure can be very different at our travel destinations than at home. What is important is that when traveling, we follow the location's way of life and the sustainability guidelines presented to us, while also trying to maintain our own values of sustainability. Find out ways that you can get involved in the country's efforts by asking your study abroad program or local government. There are usually opportunities to participate in local or regional campaigns for environmental or social causes.
To learn and read more about responsible and sustainable travel, visit Middlebury's Resources for Sustainable Travel.