Sustainability and eco-friendliness for expats

Sustainability and eco-friendliness for expats

Sustainability and eco-friendliness for expats

Many expats believe sustainability or eco-friendliness us an expensive way to live.

The phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ isn’t effective any more as it’s seen as old-style, but rephrasing it to ‘sustainability saves money’ could result in the intention behind the words becoming more fashionable by the minute, especially for expat retirees and those on low salaries or volunteering overseas. Being eco-friendly doesn’t automatically translate into buying expensive products, high quality clothing or biodegradable everything but, carefully done, this way of life can actually save money, no matter where you’re located.

Starting with the obvious, one way to immediately save money is by replacing all your old-fashioned halogen light bulbs with the LED equivalent ‘warm light’ versions. This will immediately reduce your electricity charges by a surprising amount, and not switching lights on during daytime will decrease your bill still more. Using your microwave rather than an electric oven is another savings tip and, if using the oven is necessary, cooking several dishes at the same time also saves electricity. Wherever your relocation, reducing your energy bill also reduces your energy footprint.

If you’re an expat living and working in a hot country such as Dubai, Hong Kong or the southern regions of Southeast Asia, you’ll be using a quantity of hot water for showering, upping your bill as a result. Many new developments are fitted with solar water heaters, with replacing your electric heater with the solar version good for both the planet and your pocket. More showers and less baths also helps. Controlling your fridge and freezer temperatures is another way to save, with four degrees and 18 degrees respectively the way to go.

Shopping is everyone’s favourite occupation in this consumer society as well as being one major reason why our oceans are crammed with plastic and our landfills are the graves of toys, electronics, clothes and other disposables. Cleverly targeted and marketed advertising fuels the flames of consumerism, and shopping sustainably isn’t exactly fashionable nowadays as it can involve buying second-hand items. Thinking back to the immense popularity of thrift and charity shops in the home country could bring on the feeling it’s not such a bad idea wherever you are.

Once you’ve worked out how to shop less and more sustainably, the next move is to shop better. Buying items, especially electrical goods, which are proven to last longer is a start, even if they cost more. Keeping a reusable bag in your car is essential, as it removes the need for plastic bags, and buying glass rather than plastic containers is another way to reduce the massive plastic islands in our oceans.

Wherever you are, buying fresh food from local farmers’ markets is the best way to get chemical-free ingredients and, in many countries, you’ll spend far less than in the supermarket. It’s not easy to change your lifestyle, especially when you’re getting used to a new country, but practical, inexpensive sustainability allows you to save more and feel good about it.

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