Relocating abroad isn’t an easy decision to make — in addition to leaving your loved ones and adapting to a new life, your identity might go through some turbulence, as well. In short, making the change from the familiar to something unknown can be stressful and disorienting, especially in the beginning. For many, living green has become an important part of way of life and identity, and figuring out how to maintain this lifestyle abroad can be an added challenge.
One way to deal with the stress of figuring out and adapting to a new environment is to mix old habits with new influences. Therefore, if staying green is important to you and your sense of identity, you should find ways to continue doing so in the new country — it can help make you feel at home and adapt better to your new surroundings. If you want to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle as an expat, but you’re unsure where to start, this article offers some tips.
Start with the Process of Relocation
There are several ways to make your relocation eco-friendly. If you opt for a DIY move, think about the things you’re leaving behind. Try to recycle or donate as many items as possible instead of just throwing them away. While packing, make sure to use eco-friendly, reusable materials.
If you plan to hire professional movers, take some time to research the companies you are considering. Choosing a green moving company that takes steps to minimize waste will do wonders for reducing your carbon footprint.
Choose an Eco-Friendly Home
This step will largely depend on the country you’re moving to and your budget. There are many financial decisions to make when moving overseas, and looking for a green home can significantly add to your expenses. However, if possible, opt for an environmentally friendly home.
Look for homes with energy-efficient features such as lighting, insulation, energy-saving appliances, and low-flush toilets. Solar panels are also a great option if you can find them. If you’re planning to stay for a more extended period, these green solutions can save you money in the long run.
Opt for Public Transport Instead of Cars
Another way to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle as an expat is to use public transportation instead of driving your own car. An even better option is to walk or bike whenever you can. Not only will these green modes of transportation minimize your carbon footprint, but they can provide numerous health benefits, as well. What’s more, they offer an excellent opportunity to explore the streets of your new city and discover your favorite shops, restaurants, or bookstores. You may even find that using alternative modes of transportation helps you get around faster and that you will become more confident and self-reliant.
Buy Local Food
Apart from paying attention to what you eat, think about where you buy your food. Shopping locally and at farmer’s markets helps the environment in many ways. The food in supermarkets is often pre-packed in plastic containers or wrappers that create unnecessary waste. Transportation of food to the store leaves a negative impact on the environment, too.
Buying in local stores and seasonal markets has many benefits — your fruit and veggies are likely to be of better quality, and there won’t be excessive packaging. Additionally, you will support the local economy and small businesses in your area. So, grab your reusable shopping bag and head to the nearest market!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
You are probably already familiar with the three Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reducing consumption is something you can do anywhere so if that is already your habit, keep it up. If you are trying to identify ways to be more conscious of your consumption, start by thinking about food and clothes — what are your habits, what do you really need, what foods, if any, do you regularly throw away, etc.? Also, opt for items such as reusable water bottles or canvas shopping totes instead of plastic ones. Combine your leftovers to make a new meal and avoid food waste. Almost anything, from old clothes to furniture, can be reused or recycled. So, before throwing something away, check and see whether you can reuse, donate, sell, or recycle it.
Explore Your City’s Eco-Friendly Solutions
There are many ways to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle as an expat. Though it might be challenging initially, being green can help you adjust to your new home. Many cities such as Copenhagen, Curitiba, Singapore, Vancouver, and Cape Town are renowned for their eco-friendly focus. And many other cities are taking measures to become sustainable and green as well. So, explore your new place, and find out more about the steps you can take to preserve the environment. Whether it is through an NGO or the local community, you’ll meet like-minded people who will help you stick to your lifestyle.
Lastly, make sure to share what you know and care about with others and help them incorporate more eco-choices in their everyday routine. You’ll reaffirm your sense of identity, experience new things, and make friends along the way.
Sarah Beckett is a freelance writer and consultant for allstatemoving.net. She has traveled a lot and lived in many countries around the world. In her blogs, she focuses on relocation issues and expat experience. Her favorite pastimes are hiking and cycling.