How to Explore the World with Global Volunteer Sustainably?

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Did you know? Last month was the hottest March ever recorded. And things don’t seem to get any better from here.

Therefore, we are more than aware of how traveling contributes to the overall negative impact on climate and nature. The most popular means of transportation nowadays is by air. And air travel contributes to 2.4% of total produced CO2 emissions.

At first glance, this might be a low number. But it has a higher degree of impact than others, being responsible for 5% of global warming.

Yet, we still need young people to go through the kind of experiences we provide, explore the world and the issues we have, and turn them into the leaders of today and tomorrow that can bring positive change.

In the end, signing up and going on an exchange with AIESEC could have a more positive impact than a negative.

Nonetheless, let’s explore some ways to reduce the carbon footprint of an exchange so that you can volunteer with less guilt. 

1. Choose the project for climate action

If you want to go on exchange, and you have a strong desire to make others more aware of climate change, then why not go for a project focused precisely on this subject?

The best news? We have more than one project for that!

If you are interested in marine life, try out Aquatica. With this project, you will provide communities that live close to coastal areas with concrete activities that will help them improve marine wildlife.

With Green Leaders you can unite communities in strong action plans to reduce critical factors impacting negatively the environment.

In Rooted, you will empower local communities to take care of their ecosystem. Together, you will define concrete ways for the community to protect their wildlife and preserve the biodiversity in the region. 

If you choose Eco City, then you will promote to local communities how to live a more sustainable life wherever they are.

With Eat4Change, your participants will learn more about a plant-based diet and how it can improve their well-being but also the well-being of the planet.  

2. Do your exchange closer to home

We mentioned above how flying is one of the most harmful ways to travel. So, why not do it closer to home?

There is a high chance we will have an AIESEC office located in the neighboring country. Give it a try!

Especially if you are living in Europe, where countries are so close by. 

Taking the train or the bus will provide you with a lot more to see and explore. You get the chance to meet new people on your way. At the same time, you will get a glimpse of nature and some cities while traveling. Not to mention, if the trip is longer, you might benefit from a day exploring a city in the middle of your journey. 

3. Explore locally 

In exchange, we get the urge to explore the host country as much as possible. The people in your project might also encourage you to travel.

And as tempting as it is, if you want to keep your carbon footprint as low as possible, then consider exploring only the city you are in. 

Indulge in local cuisine, explore the city in and out, participate in local activities, and buy locally crafted souvenirs.

Even if, at first sight, it doesn’t look too appealing, we guarantee that there’s always something going on in your area with go-worthy events. You can try apps to help you out. Such as Meetup, Eventbrite, or even use TikTok to find exciting gems. 

4. Limit your tech use

Once you have mapped out the places you want to see and the things you want to do, put that phone down. For various reasons.

1. Putting your phone down will give you more time to enjoy what the surrounding area has to offer you. You will be more mindful of the places you go to.
2. It will push you to interact with people more. Who doesn’t love to have a conversation partner that listens to you? And you get to be listened to in return. 3. Less phone usage means less use of electricity. Less electricity used means less CO2 emissions. Not to mention that the way to keep your phone working for more time means to use it sparsely.

Don’t forget to unplug your phone or laptop when you are not using them. Chargers will use up energy, even if they aren’t connected to any device.

5. Continue back home

There’s an extra bonus if you choose a project that aims to fight back climate change, as the ones mentioned above. You get to learn additional information from various partners for the project. In Eat4Change, WWF provides you with guidelines and content to teach further. This means you will become quite the expert in sustainability and climate action after the project.

You can use all the acquired knowledge and skills to implement them in your own local community, making your surroundings a better place as well. And not be limited by the positive impact you have left abroad.

Lastly, those are good case practices for the environment you yourself can continue to practice. 

Bottom line

We hope you enjoyed our 5 ways to go on an exchange without hijacking your carbon footprint. Of course, it is not perfect, but it’s a start.

We challenge you to show us how eco-friendly your exchange was. You can always reach out to us on social media, like Instagram.

But first, reach out to your local AIESEC office and sign up for Global Volunteer


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