How To Volunteer Abroad and Stay Green

By Jenny Holt on 22/02/2017

There are a number of causes that bring you to volunteer abroad. While many travelers are working to promote global improvements, their amazing intentions can be offset by the often harmful factors of travel: excessive carbon emissions, wasteful consumer products, inadequate waste reduction, unsustainable accommodation. Fortunately, with a few simple steps those who want their next volunteering journey to be a green, sustainable one can easily minimize their environmental impact while traveling abroad.

For The Green Travelers Who Volunteer Abroad

The volunteers that utilize sustainable practices at their home, applying them while on the road wouldn’t be too difficult; travelers can even benefit from familiarizing themselves with the local recycling and waste removal practices at their volunteer location. Once there, local residents can be of assistance and a valuable resource for finding local, sustainable food sources. By preparing and packing mindfully, travelers can easily maintain their green standards at all times.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions

Some of the most environmentally harmful aspects of overseas travel are carbon emissions. According to a recent article in The New York Times, air travel accounts for 5% of global warming. While that may not seem like a lot, that number is only expected to grow as flights become more frequent. Travelers can reduce their personal emissions by selecting the most direct flight route or by consulting different airlines to find one that is invested in their environmental impact. They can also opt to offset their carbon footprint by utilizing a company that offsets air travel emissions. For example, Climate Care will help individuals to measure their carbon footprint and purchase carbon credits to offset or neutralize their greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing Waste – What to Pack?

As an overseas volunteer, there’s plenty that you can do to reduce personal waste, and help prevent pollution. This can even start with the packing process: you can pack essentials, with a variety of reusable products that will help avoid wasteful pitfalls. You could also consider investing in biodegradable, reusable personal-care products, such as packaged-free soap or sustainably grown bamboo toothbrushes. Choose to pack reusable daily-use items, such as a stainless steel water bottle, eating utensils, plates, durable food storage containers, and a personal towel.

Sustainable Accommodation

Once you have the packing part covered, you can go green when looking for places to stay; you can start with a small research of hotels and hostels that utilize sustainable resources or consider waste-free camping. With small, everyday changes like turning down the thermostat, minimizing shower time, turning off the tap while brushing teeth, and shutting off the lights whenever possible – your impact will be great. If you even consider minimizing unnecessary travel, and utilize public transportation, car shares, or consider biking – you’re guaranteeing a squeaky-green volunteering journey.

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