Climate change is an issue that pretty much everyone in the world is talking about today.
The way people travel and live their lives is often a debated problem and it’s hard to ignore the negative impact travel can have on the environment.
And as awesome as it can be to get paid to travel the world, digital nomads especially have to grapple with how their choices affect the environment.
From global warming to plastic consumption, what choices can digital nomads make to help address climate change and be responsible global citizens?
Here are some changes to consider to become a more eco-friendly digital nomad:
1. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint from Flying
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Let’s start with the big one:
One of the most significant environmental problems that face digital nomads is traveling on an airplane.
I’m not a fan of flight-shaming because flights are unavoidable sometimes, and it’s not realistic to expect everyone to travel by racing yacht like Greta Thunberg.
So while the most obvious tip to reduce your carbon footprint as a digital nomad is to simply fly less, there are other ways to be mindful of our actions in this respect too.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to try to lower your carbon footprint from flying.
2. Choose Direct Flights
Try to avoid flights with one or more layovers, even if it means missing out on the absolute cheapest international flight.
Layovers mean extra landing and take-off is using extra fuel. Flying direct will help lower your carbon footprint
If your final destination is remote, then this could be a problem. You will end up taking many flights to get there, which will increase your carbon footprint.
3. Sit in Economy Class
Business and first-class is an airplane luxury, but it’s not good for the environment. It increases your carbon footprint to have that extra space.
The more people can fit on one plane, then the carbon footprint of each person goes down. If everybody in a regular plane decided to fly business class, then you would need five airplanes!
So save some money and protect the environment by opting to stay in economy class.
4. Compensate for Your Carbon Footprint
One great way to be eco-friendly is can buy carbon offsets to compensate for how much carbon you use. You might be budget-conscious (we know not all digital nomad jobs pay a ton), but even a small offset can help!
Companies like Terrapass will calculate how much carbon your flight used.
Then you can donate money to sustainability projects that will “make up” for the carbon emissions. You could fund the planting of trees or fund clean energy projects.
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5. Avoid Short Flights If You Can
Even short flights can significantly increase your carbon footprint. For example, a return flight from London to Edinburgh produces more CO2 than a Ugandan makes in a whole year.
So consider taking an 8-hour bus instead of a 1-hour flight.
It’s a great option to reduce your carbon footprint
6. Stay in One Place of the World for a While
The jet-setting life is glamorous, but it’s also not sustainable for the environment.
It’s easier to avoid flights if you plan on staying in one area where nearby sites are reachable by bus.
Instead of planning a trip involving multiple flights, try planning a trip on one area of the world. Places like Southeast Asia are easy to travel in without taking flights.
Bonus Tip: Use public transportation as much as you can. Instead of taking a private taxi from the airport, try to use the public bus. It’s cheaper, and you also reduce your carbon footprint.
7. Choose Eco-Friendly Products
Reducing plastic consumption is easy to put in place in your lifestyle, though think critically about what’s in your digital nomad packing list.
These are a few simple things to replace in your day-to-day life:
- Shampoo bars instead of shampoo bottles
- Tote bags instead of plastic bags
- Bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic toothbrushes
- Toothpaste tablets instead of toothpaste tubes
- Reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles (Pro Tip: LifeStraw is an excellent option because it also filters water to make it drinkable)
There’s also the option to use refill stores. Refill stores are a zero-waste option. They let you bring in containers you already own and fill them with products. They have items like laundry detergent, soap, and shampoo.
It was surprising to me that it was easy to find eco-friendly products while I’m abroad. You will have better success if you are staying in a touristy area. I’ve only been able to find eco-friendly products in popular cities or the country’s capital.
Bonus Tip: Try to avoid getting takeout. Takeout usually involves plastic containers, plastic utensils, and plastic straws. Sometimes you can request not to get those plastic items, but it’s not always a guarantee with food delivery.
8. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Farming and livestock are one of the significant contributors to global warming. The meat and dairy industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation combined.
Scientists recently came out with guidelines on healthy diets that support the environment. The instructions don’t altogether remove meat from a diet. But North Americans need to reduce their red meat consumption by 84%.
You could opt to have one plant-based meal per day, which would have a considerable impact on overall sustainability. You will save enough water to have 11,400 showers. You will also reduce pollution by the same amount it takes to drive from Los Angeles to New York.
9. Donate or Volunteer for Environmental Organizations
Even though individual action is necessary, large scale changes need to happen too. You don’t need to become a Greta Thunberg-level climate change activist, but there are ways you can help.
You could donate money to support environmental organizations like Greenpeace. There are also volunteer opportunities to consider if you have the time.
Something as simple as voting for people who represent your values can make a difference.
Do You Have Any More Tips?
There are a lot of ways digital nomads can help the environment. Did we miss anything?
Let us know in the comments if you have any eco-friendly advice for digital nomads.
What is your experience with trying to be more environmentally-friendly while traveling?
Oh, and if you loved this article, be sure to check out our other digital nomad articles:
- 18 Tips to Stay Productive as a Digital Nomad
- Is FlexJobs Legit? Our Honest Review
- How to Get a Job as a Travel Writer