Sustainability & Travel

As you plan to take part in global programs, consider the environmental effects of your time abroad, including, but not limited to carbon emissions resulting from air and automobile travel, the impact of using single-use plastic bottles and packaging, and the purchase of imported products. While global experiences are essential to the Penn experience, travel may have an undesirable impact on the earth, its resources, and local communities.

Small changes in the way you travel that can have large impacts on the environment:

Quality over quantity – Don’t try to cover large distances or visit every destination. Traveling to many places in a short amount of time, which often requires flying, constitutes the largest impact of travel on the environment. Travel slow and local, rather than country-hop. Aside from reducing your environmental impact, you have the potential to make stronger connections to the places you visit.

Smarter Transit – Use public transport such as trains and buses instead of planes and cars to reduce your impact. Even better, walk or bike when possible. These options are also normally more cost effective!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – When it comes to recycling and sustainability, each country’s approach or programming will vary, but there is always a way for you to leave a smaller trace. Examples include:

  • Get involved with local sustainability efforts and follow country-specific recycling and composting programs if they are available. Make the effort to look up local programs before you go and have a plan to get involved.

  • Bring a reusable water bottle and refill it, rather than buy new bottles of water. In locations where the water is unsafe to drink, consider a water filter, iodine tabs, or boil water instead of purchasing single-use plastic bottles.

  • Bring and use reusable shopping bags. Many countries are enacting bans on plastic bags and in some places, you are charged for receiving any bags in stores, which are additional good reasons to be prepared with a reusable option.

  • If you are living abroad for a longer period of time you may have purchased household items or other items that you don’t plan to take home. Be intentional and don’t wait until the last minute to find ways to recycle or donate those items.

Support Local – By supporting local businesses and restaurants your carbon footprint is reduced, especially when food and products are sourced nearby and don’t have far to travel. Further, you are supporting the local economy and may have a chance to try unique dishes and products not found at home.

Additional Resources