Study Abroad

Study Abroad More Sustainably

Elon has a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2037. You can help Elon reach this goal and have other positive economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts related to your study abroad activities.

Air travel associated with studying abroad represents about 20% of Elon’s greenhouse gas emissions. While offseting emissions associated with flying is an option, there are also actions you can take that will reduce your impact in other ways.


Preparing for Departure

  • Prepare your residence hall room/home/apartment
    • Turn off all your lights and unplug all unnecessary appliances.
    • Adjust the thermostat and turn down the water heater (if you have one).
  • Pack responsibly
    • Remove all packaging from new items and recycle them before you depart.
    • Pack reusable items such as a water bottle, reusable batteries and reusable shopping bags to avoid creating waste while abroad.
    • Pack biodegradable soaps, shampoos and toothpaste.
  • Plan for meaningful contributions. Learn about top environmental issues in your host country and how they impact the local culture and economy. See if there is an opportunity to volunteer or participate in a service learning project that contributes to sustainability in a culturally appropriate manner. It may be helpful to see if there are existing organizations that organize such service learning projects, or you may also ask your program leader about culturally appropriate service opportunities while abroad.
  • Learn about airline practices. Before you purchase an airplane ticket, look up the practices of different airlines and then purchase your tickets through an airline with sustainable practices.
  • Learn about eco-friendly accommodations and activities. Moon Travel Guides are a good resource for this.
  • Consider purchasing offsets for all or a portion of the emissions generated by your air travel. You can calculate the CO2 emissions from your travel (both air and land) and receive a recommendation for the amount of carbon offsets to purchase based on the number of miles traveled. Carbon offset projects reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere and should be third party verified. Examples of projects include alternative and renewable energy projects and planting trees.

While Abroad

  • Stay close to your host city on weekends!
  • Walk or bike as much as possible and use public transportation.
  • Purchase local items. Spending money at local businesses and on locally grown or produced goods helps support the local community and leaves you with unique experiences or souvenirs.
  • Be mindful of what your purchases support. Refuse food or products made from endangered animal or tree species. Purchasing such items only increases the demand for poachers to obtain the raw material, so do not support them even if it is a local ‘must-try’.
  • Leave biological and archeological objects/materials where you find them.
  • Minimize your waste, energy use and water use.
  • Share your concerns about social responsibility and ecological health with hotels, tour operators and other companies you use to let them know you appreciate their sustainable tourism practices or would like to see their practices improve.

When you Return Home

  • Take the Elon Sustainability Pledge and commit to continue sustainable practices.
  • Get involved in Elon Sustainability by volunteering, participating in events, becoming an Eco-Rep or a Sustainability Research Scholar.

Additional Resources