No-one can avoid generating carbon emissions when on assignment, but there are many simple ways expats can lessen their impact on the environment.
A family of frequent fliers
Living the expat life often means annual long-haul flights for the whole family and possibly many short hops to destinations near your host country, too. If possible, try to fly direct (planes burn most fuel taking off and landing) and try to choose airlines using newer, more fuel-efficient fleets. For holiday weekends, choose destinations closer to where you live and see if you can get there by train, bus or car.
Carbon offset units
You can also buy carbon offset units to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases released as a result of your air travel. Offset units support projects that reduce or remove emissions from the atmosphere, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation. But be sure you use an accredited and well-trusted offset scheme provider.
Carpooling and shopping local
If you live in an expat area with no school bus, see if other families want to rotate school runs and minimise car usage. If meeting friends for lunch or coffee, offer to pick them up rather than taking two taxis / cars. Living in expat communities, you will often be able to source products from back home or other international markets. It’s always great to have a few of our favourite snacks and products in the fridge, but try to buy local produce, when and where possible. And do you really have to drink imported mineral water?
All around the world, increasingly, there are more and more options for sourcing renewable or clean energy, avoiding unnecessary waste, and reducing your carbon footprint. Be proactive and research what’s achievable in your host country. The global reliance on single-use plastics is receiving plenty of attention but in many developing countries you may need to use your initiative to do your bit – i.e. carry your own shopping bags, stainless steel straws, reusable coffee cups and food containers.
Get your kids involved
Nowadays, kids are growing up with a strong eco-friendly outlook (thanks to their schools running projects). Sit down together and figure out small to significant ways you can run a more sustainable household and lifestyle. They may have a few ideas. In fact, they may be able to school you on the subject!