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Student in Costa Rican cloud forest covered in moss by Sidney Du Varney
While you are abroad, there are a number of steps you can take to respect the local people, the cultural heritage, environment and local economy. Many suggestions are simple and can easily be adopted. You'll likely also want to continue many of the sustainable practices you already implement at home or in Boulder, or bring practices you learn abroad back with you after your program. Want to be more sustainable during your time abroad? Take Ed Abroad's Sustainable Abroad Pledge

Environmental Considerations 

Research the environmental issues in the location you are traveling and consider the impacts that you as a traveler and other travelers may have on the local environment.  
  • Pack Smart  
    • Pack a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags and produce bags, reusable to-go containers/sandwich bags and reef-safe sunscreen. 
  • Travel Smart 
    • Explore your host city! Rather than traveling every weekend, stay in your host city more often and explore everything it has to offer, including local festivals, restaurants, hikes, etc! This will help you feel like a local while cutting down on your carbon footprint. 
    • Explore your host country through slow travel! Take advantage of trains and buses and get to know your host country. Check out the carbon footprint comparison chart to see the difference between train and flight travel.  
    • Consider using carbon offset programs like Climate Trust, Native Energy or TerraPass when booking flights.    
    • Walk, bike, and take public transportation when possible. 
    • Use accommodations and transportation that are sustainable. 
    • Do not collect, buy, or export endangered natural products. 
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 
    • Follow local recycling rules and schedules. 
    • If you leave items behind in your host-country, be sure to recycle or donate them rather than throwing them away. 
  • Other Considerations 
    • Drink tap water where it is potable. 
    • Choose low-impact recreational activities. 
    • Do not disturb wildlife. 
Thanks to the University of Minnesota, the University of Oregon and the University of Denver for many of these tips. 

Economic Considerations

Environmental justice, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. When working to make your travel sustainable consider how environmental justice impacts your host community, and how your actions make an impact. Supporting local businesses increases the likelihood that local people benefit economically from your visit.  
  • Eat and stay at local establishments.  
  • Buy locally produced goods and food. 
  • Spend money at a variety of restaurants and shops. 
  • Contribute to the local community by using local services as much as possible. 
  • Although it’s tempting, think about the impact of buying lots of fast fashion outfits while abroad.  

Additional resources 

Last Updated December 2023
Photo by Sidney Du Varney