The digital nomad lifestyle is increasing in popularity as more workers leave behind the typical 9-to-5 grind. Freelancers and digital entrepreneurs aren’t tied to a desk or office and can move around and make their own hours. They are free to travel the world and see its beauty while still getting paid.
With so many perks of travel, it’s hard to remember tourism’s impact on our environment. However, if you’re willing to do a little extra planning and research, you can find opportunities to make more sustainable choices at every step of your journey.
Living more sustainably as a digital nomad can begin before leaving home. Pack only what you need when traveling to improve the efficiency of your transportation. Airplanes, cars and public transit perform best and lower their carbon emissions when they are lighter. Bringing less stuff with you as you move from place to place can help lessen the load.
Make a packing list well ahead of time, edit your list and cut anything you can do without. Choose clothes within the same color palette that can be mixed and matched into endless outfit options for every occasion. Shoes and tech items are heavy, so be very choosy and pick just what you know you’ll need and use regularly.
You should also be intentional with your choice of luggage. A light bag will help lighten your load and be more comfortable. Also, since you’re trying to bring less, a suitcase with a hard shell rather than entirely fabric will prevent you from overstuffing unnecessary items.
Bring Eco-Friendly Products
Bringing your own multiuse products can help reduce plastic consumption. Pack items like a washable water bottle, metal straw and reusable grocery bags to avoid similar single-use items abroad.
Multiuse personal hygiene products can lessen your carbon footprint. Ditch disposable razors and switch to a reusable one made of a material other than plastic or learn to use a steel safety razor. Period products are also notorious for overloading landfills. Using a menstrual cup or period panties can reduce your footprint and save you money in the long run.
Commit to Slow Travel
Being a digital nomad is exciting, and if you’re new to the lifestyle, you may be tempted to move locations quickly to see many new places in a short time. However, the environmental impact of all that travel is significant, especially if you go by plane or car.
Choosing to stay longer at each destination reduces transport-based carbon emissions and can bring you more satisfaction. Even though your job allows you to travel, you still need to put in enough work hours each day to afford your lifestyle. Staying in one place for more than a few days or weeks allows you to experience more of what the culture offers. Just make sure you’re a considerate neighbor by introducing yourself early and getting to know the locals.
Choose transportation wisely when it’s time to move on. Traveling by train or in a carpool will reduce your individual footprint. When traveling around in a new city, consider walking as much as possible and renting a bike if you need to go farther.
Support Sustainable Organizations
Where you choose to stay and work can significantly impact the sustainability of your digital nomad lifestyle. Do some research on your next destination. Choose hotels that are LEED-certified or have other similar designations. Beware of greenwashing. Do your homework to see what methods your lodging uses to reduce its environmental impact.
Be equally selective about your workspace. Will you work from your room, coffee shop, library or a coworking space? One perk of using a coworking space is that it’s conducive to getting actual work done since it’s less distracting than other locations. Also, many are taking steps to be more eco-friendly by using renewable materials and solar power.
Eat With Intention
Touring a new city is the perfect time to take advantage of local cuisine, especially since digital nomads typically need to eat out for most of their meals. You can’t fully appreciate another culture if you spend all your time eating fast food. Choose restaurants that source their ingredients locally, sustainably and humanely.
You could also try to cut down on the amount of meat you eat. Meat production, especially beef, is responsible for 14.5% of all human-caused greenhouse gases. Pollution comes from fossil fuels in production, methane gas produced by animals, and the massive amount of land and water needed to raise that many animals.
Just Do Your Best With Sustainable Living
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to completely erase your carbon footprint, but you can drastically reduce it by doing just a little extra research. If you’re unfamiliar with eco-friendly living, try adding one or two of these tips into your digital nomad routine at first.
Changing every facet of your lifestyle at once isn’t sustainable and will lead to burnout. Instead, make intentional choices to be 1% more environmentally conscious each day.
Author Bio: Evelyn Long is a writer and the editor-in-chief of Renovated. Her work focuses on green building and sustainability initiatives.