7 ways to reduce your environmental impact as an expat

It will probably not have escaped your notice that climate change has become a hot topic in recent years. Living ecologically is increasingly becoming the norm. However, an ecological lifestyle is not easy for everyone. As an expat for example, international relocations are a big part of the job and often also a necessity. Luckily, there are a few things you can do as an expat to reduce your ecological footprint and make your regular relocations somewhat eco-friendlier.

Carefully consider everything you pack

Most people tend to take as much stuff as possible on their trip abroad. This while you certainly won't need all your stuff in a new country (some items, such as country-specific chargers, are not even useful everywhere).  If you consider carefully what things to take and not to take with you, you will only end up with the essentials (which makes the move smaller, and thus eco-friendlier).

For the things you decided to leave behind, try to recycle and donate as much as possible instead of just throwing them away. Make sure to read our previous blog post on ‘sell, ship or store your goods when moving abroad’ if you want more information on the matter.

Pick your expat destination and home wisely

If you have the luxury to pick your expat destination yourself, make use out of and pick an environmental steady environment. Those so-called eco-friendly countries are often engaging in sustainable processes and practices that reduce the harm upon ecosystems and the environment. A good indication of this is the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). Top countries in this category are Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom and France.

Also, looking for a ‘green’ house/apartment can make your move significantly better for the environment. You can look for places with energy-efficient features such as lighting, insulation, energy-saving appliances etc. If you are planning on staying for a longer period, these ‘green options’ can also save money in the long run.  

Work together with a moving company that thinks about the environment

If you are planning on working together with an international moving company, take some time to research the different companies. Choosing a company that takes steps to minimize waste and reducing their carbon footprint will do wonders in your quest for an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Learn the local trash separation system

Don’t just blindly duplicate the trash separation system you are used to. Separation systems can differ per country, and even per village. Do they throw everything in the same bin? Or do they carefully separate trash in different containers depending on the materials? Also: it might be useful to become familiar with the rules regarding where to drop off items that cannot be recycled and when the garbage is picked up.

Shop smart and buy less

The environment will also benefit if you think about where you buy your food. Food in supermarkets have often been transported a lot, as well as pre-packed in plastic containers or wrappers. Food from a local market on the other hand, creates much less unnecessary waste which leaves a more positive impact on the environment. Besides, locally grown products are often fresher and better in quality than the products from big supermarkets. Win-win, right?

Use green modes of transportation while abroad

Another useful tip to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle as an expat is to use other transportation modes than driving a car. You may opt for public transportation. An even better option is to walk or bike. The latter may also have significant health benefits. Moreover, it provides an excellent opportunity to explore secret places, shops, restaurants, and bookstores of your new hometown.

Adapt small, positive changes to your way of living

Using a reusable drinking bottle
Turning off the light in a room when you're not in it
Printing on two sides of a paper when possible
Turning down the heat a little bit during the winter
Taking shorter showers


Every proactive step to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle is a good one. Over a long term, all these actions add up to a reduced ecological footprint and becoming a more responsible and ecologically aware expat.  Interested in working together with a green moving company? Get in touch!