The opportunities the Turing Scheme supports to study and work in countries all over the world offer many and varied undoubted benefits to students, pupils and learners – however, as we all know, international travel also has a big impact on the global environment.
Climate change and rising pollution levels are often at the top of the news agenda, and it is the responsibility of us all to look at ways in which we can personally and collectively minimise the impact of our activities on the planet.
Here are some of our top tips for making your Turing Scheme placement as sustainable as possible without curtailing your enjoyment and the great learning and development experiences that you will have.
Getting there and back
Air travel is a major contributor to pollution in the atmosphere and should be kept to a minimum wherever possible.
Obviously, there is no option to get on a plan of your heading for a long-haul destination. If your placements are in nearby countries in Europe, though, consider whether it is feasible to travel there and back by sea, rail and road transport, such as ferry services and the Eurotunnel.
If flying is unavoidable because you trip is a long-haul one, research your possible carriers before booking your tickets. Many airlines have pledged to reduce emissions and eventually become carbon neutral. Look for those who use the more environmentally friendly aviation biofuel on a regular basis.
You should also be conscious of the routes airlines offer to your destination and look for the shortest flight path, taking direct flights whenever possible, as it is the take-offs and landings which cause most carbon emissions.
Although, there is often debate about whether they are effective or not, you could also investigate contributing towards a carbon offsetting initiative – but make sure you do your research and choose a reputable programme. Numerous online carbon calculators are available to help you work out your emissions for offsetting.
Travelling around while you’re away
When travelling around locally in your destination city, region or country, the same considerations apply as at home. Walking or renting a bicycle is the best option, if practical, and if not, then public transport is much preferable to using hire cars or taxis – unless you can specify or verify that the vehicles concerned are electric or hybrid – and, if you do use a car, to carpool where possible.
If moving over large distances in-country, again, consider taking buses, coaches or trains – and enjoying the scenery along the way – rather than domestic flights. Again, look out for providers who may be operating electric or hybrid fleets and actively supporting carbon reduction programmes.
Support the local economy
Supporting the local economy, by sourcing local products and services when in your destination, is another key way to reduce the environmental impact of your trip.
Buying local food and eating at restaurants which use local produce reduces the need for imports and the associated carbon footprints, while using local service providers that employ local people provides money and jobs, in some cases preventing the local population from engaging in more environmentally damaging industries instead.
Get involved in local community initiatives
Look at ways of doing something to help at a local level, particularly if you are staying for a number of weeks or months, like a street clean, joining a local environmental group or getting involved in a beach clean. Find out if your host university, college, school or workplace carries out any organised green activities or events and join up. Not only will this put something back into your host community, but it will help you meet different people and, where relevant, improve your language skills!
And finally, just because you’re abroad, don’t forget the basics. Turn off lights and electrical appliances; use energy efficient light bulbs; only run washing machines when full; take short showers rather than baths; separate your rubbish and recycle as much as possible where local recycling options are available; and avoid single use plastics by using reusable drinks bottles, cups, etc.
By following these suggestions, Turing Scheme participants can help combat pollution, protect the environment and make a positive impact on their destination – while still enjoying one of the best experiences of their life!
Find out more about the Turing Scheme and the opportunities it supports to study and work abroad.