Office of International Studies

Sustainable Study Abroad

The following is a list of some suggestions as to how to shrink your footprint in the country where you study abroad. They grow out of the "responsible tourism movement" and although we don't think of study abroad as tourism, these ideas offer similar benefits to host country and to visitor. Some have financial implications for you (or others), but some are pretty easy to implement.

  • Limit water use: take short showers, brush teeth and wash dishes with the water off
  • Learn as much as you can (before you go and once there) about the social, political, and environmental issues your host country faces
  • Buy local food, clothing, gifts, music, and such
  • Use public transportation. Even better, bike, skate, or walk when possible. If flying, consider purchasing carbon offsets for your flight (see or  for more information)
  • Support local products and services (hotels, restaurants, guides, gifts)
  • Limit electricity use: turn off lights and computers when not in use
  • Donate time or money to a local cause (the former is also a great way to meet people)
  • Avoid products made from local endangered species, historical artifacts, or items of cultural patrimony
  • Learn about the effects of mass tourism on the local environment
  • Refill your water bottle rather than buying a new one; invest in a water purification system (tablets, filter, etc.) 
  • Listen to locals on matters of cultural norms
  • Use rechargeable batteries (pack these, a charger, and the appropriate adapter)
  • Eat local foods: wash produce well, and choose piping hot foods from street vendors
  • Hang your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer
  • Carry a cloth bag and refuse plastic bags from stores
  • Remember that less is more