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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.

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. 
    • Consider using carbon offset programs like Climate Trust, Native Energy or TerraPass when booking flights.  
    • Take trains and buses for weekend trips rather than flying.  
    • 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.  

Sustainability-Focused Programs

Education Abroad offers a large range of sustainability-focused programs around the world! Here are some examples. Meet with an advisor in our office to learn more.

Additional resources 

  • Carbon Footprint Calculator - calculate your carbon footprint and find tips for lowering yours! 
  • CU Environment Center - the hub on campus for student-powered sustainability 
  • Ethical Traveler - a nonprofit organization seeking to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.  
  • National Geographic’s Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel - learn tips for sustainable travel for every step of the journey! 
  • Responsible Travel Pledge - learn how to travel sustainably in various destinations around the world. 
  • 350 Project - an international campaign for worldwide solutions to the climate crisis – find out what the number 350 refers to on their website. 
Last Updated February 2023
Photo by Sidney Du Varney