The term “eco-expat” is very much in vogue at the moment, it is echoed in societies that are increasingly concerned about their environment and its preservation. This term eco-expat” refers to an expatriation that is considered more environmentally friendly. Expatriation, by definition, means being far from one’s country of origin and this does not happen without consequences on the environment. How can you prepare for your expatriation to make it more eco-responsible? Discover our precious pieces of advice in this article.

Choosing your destination

The first step in preparing your expatriation to make it “greener” is to choose your destination well. This is an important decision to make, if not the most important one, as it will impact your eco-expatriation! Indeed, how can you be an eco-friendly expatriate when you are going to live in a country that has no policy in this area? Various rankings, including the one by InterNations, allow us to identify the best and worst countries in terms of sustainable development. Which countries should be favoured for a more ecological expatriation and which ones should be avoided?

For a greener expatriation, head for Europe!

According to this source, Scandinavian countries are at the top of the ranking without much surprise. Finland is the leader of the chart; this country is known for its “gentle way of life”, thanks in particular to the quality of its air and its environment. Sweden is in second place, just behind Finland. In Sweden, green products, that is, fresh and local food, are very abundant on the market which makes them very accessible, thus contributing to the healthy diet of the inhabitants. In addition, the Swedish government is very concerned about the environment and many measures have been taken to protect it. Norway completes the podium and stands out from the other countries in terms of sustainable development, notably thanks to the quality of its air, water and sanitation systems. Europe is also very well represented in the top ten of this ranking, with Austria, Switzerland and Denmark in the 4th, 5th and 6th position respectively. Germany is in the 8th position and Luxembourg completes the top 10. New Zealand (7th position) and Canada (9th position) are the only two countries outside of Europe to appear at the top of the ranking.

Some countries to avoid… 

Other countries are poor performers in terms of sustainable development, which is why they should be avoided if you want to become an “eco-expat”. At the bottom of the ranking, we find mostly South and East Asian countries, including Indonesia (57th position), Vietnam (56th position), Thailand (55th position) and India (60th position) which completes the ranking. There is also a Middle Eastern country, Kuwait which is in 59th place, partly due to its lack of interest in environmental issues, and two African countries, namely Egypt (58th in the ranking) and Kenya (53rd position). The first of these African countries is poorly ranked, in particular because of its poor waste management, sorting and significant waste. The island of Malta is an exception in Europe as it is ranked 52nd in this ranking.

Adapt your lifestyle according to your beliefs, even if you are an expatriate

Just because you are moving abroad does not mean you have to give up your ecological convictions. Preparing for your expatriation along with a few tips will help you become an “eco-expat”.

Travelling more responsibly… 

Expatriation means travelling by plane, which is synonymous with a heavy carbon footprint! Air travel seems to be essential for expatriation and it is obvious that there is no question of no longer taking the plane for these trips. You have to be reasonable, because the risk for expatriates is to go back and forth between the host country and the country of origin as soon as homesickness is felt. One should try, as far as possible, to try to limit air travel to a minimum, as it is too damaging to the environment. If you are a European resident and are moving within Europe, think about taking the train! Those are longer than travelling by plane, but they have the advantage of being economical and more environmentally friendly.

Expatriation is also about adventure and discovering a new part of the world. In a new environment, the desire to explore the surroundings and neighbouring countries is great. If you take the plunge, give preference to train journeys wherever possible, and if you have to choose between a boat or a plane, always choose the plane, which is less polluting. There are other possible solutions to travel while respecting the environment. For all of your travels, think of public transportation or hitchhiking. If, however, you have to fly, choose direct, non-stop flights, as it is during the take-off and landing phases that planes consume the most fuel and therefore pollute.

Various tools can be used to calculate your carbon footprint and can be useful to prepare for your expatriation. For example, you can use (insert the name of a carbon footprint calculator) to find out the carbon footprint of your travel and offset it. To offset your carbon footprint, you can make a donation to an association that fights against global warming or take part in a beach clean-up campaign.

Opt for a more local lifestyle

Another tip to prepare for your eco-expatriation is to opt for a more local lifestyle. In terms of diet, it is recommended to eat fresh, local and seasonal products. This will give you the opportunity to discover new tastes and new flavour combinations! As far as possible, give preference to small producers and local businesses over hypermarkets and products imported from abroad. When you shop at the local market, it will be an opportunity for you to meet new people and immerse yourself in the culture of your adopted country, and learn about its customs. However, avoid importing food or other products from your country of origin! In addition to being more expensive, this will increase your carbon footprint.

For further information…

For those who would like to go further in order to prepare for your eco-friendly expatriation in the best possible way, you should know that there are many blogs and different websites that deal with this subject. Depending on your destination, be it Asia, Europe, Africa or the United States, you will find plenty of testimonials and advice on the web from expatriates who share their experiences. If you are interested in an expatriation to Africa, we recommend the blog of Amélie, alias Meli Green Seed, a French woman who has expatriated to South Africa, and she gives an ecological assessment of her expatriation. For those who would like to discover the United States, we invite you to visit the blog Parenthèse Citron where you can find the different testimonies of Fanny, who talks about her experience as a French expatriate in the United States and the ecology. Another reference, the website Femmexpat, is worth knowing when you want to expatriate. It deals with various themes (departure, expat life, education, etc.) and offers various testimonials, including that of Isabelle, an expatriate in Abidjan, who provides pieces of advice on how to stay eco-friendly during your expatriation.

If you are preparing your expatriation to the United Kingdom, we invite you to read our latest article about the consequences of the Brexit for expatriates.

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