Sustainability & Studying Away
How Can I Consider Sustainability While Choosing a Program?
Below are some questions to consider and ask about a program!
- Do they integrate environmental responsibility into their mission? Do they have sustainability-focused academic programs? Have they set greenhouse gas reduction goals?
- Do they have an organization-wide commitment to diversity and social justice? Programs that honor diverse perspectives provide more opportunities for ecological sustainability that considers all parties.
- Do they provide an authentic cultural experience? Programs that emphasize integration into local cultures (and, for example, hire local faculty and staff) are best able to support environmental efforts in local communities.
- What are they giving back to the communities that support them? Are they using resources to strengthen collective assets (local schools, libraries, health programs) and/or land and water conservation projects?
Transportation & Housing
- Calculate and compare the carbon emissions associated with travel destinations by searching flights from your originating airport to receiving airport on Google Flights. Google Flights displays the kg CO2 emissions associated with each flight based on distance, layovers, flight time, class of travel, and type of aircraft. When possible, fly direct with limited connections and book through an airline dedicated to reducing their Scope 1 emissions. Instead of focusing on the potential of carbon offsets, try to “onset” the environmental costs of emissions by proactively investing in options that acknowledge and account for these impacts.
- If you’re interested in calculating the carbon footprint of your flight yourself, you can use the following equation:
- Total flight emissions = (Flight segment 1 ∗ Emissions factor 1) + (Flight segment 2 ∗ Emissions factor 2) + … + (Flight segment n ∗ Emissions factor n)
- Where flight segments are in miles between your airport of origin and airport of destination (consider segments as layovers and other flight stops during your trip) and the emissions factors are drawn from the table below, sourced from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs.
- Use public transportation and walk whenever safe and possible. Many European and Asian countries have well-developed bus and rail systems that make traveling convenient and sustainable!
Look for housing close to your program or close to public transportation. Plan excursions that can be reached without private transportation when possible.
Prioritize sustainable and low-impact accommodations where possible and cost-effective. The hospitality industry is a huge limit to green study abroad because of wasteful water use for cleaning linens and towels as well as other problematic practices. Low-impact accommodations could be a smaller, more basic accommodation or a higher-end property that utilizes renewable energy and water/energy-efficient technologies such as multi-use grey water, recycling water, and dual use of heat for cooking and heating.
How Can I Maintain a Sustainable Lifestyle While I Am Studying Away?
Below are some suggestions to reduce your carbon footprint abroad and be more environmentally conscious!
- Bring reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, and straws with you when you leave your house. When food shopping, bring a cloth bag with you (many countries now charge per plastic bag used).
- Take short showers, turn off AC/heat and electronics when you leave your room.
- Research recycling protocols in your host country.
- If applicable, buy a water filter or boil water. When in places with unsafe drinking water, the default is to buy bottled water. Follow local guidelines to find safe alternatives or invest in a filter. Sign up for the Green Passport Program to practice environmental consciousness and acknowledge the interconnectedness of local communities and their surroundings.
- Most importantly, go local! Support businesses, artists, and restaurants within your host community and adopt local cultural norms and practices, such as conserving water and air-drying clothes.