Leave Only Footprints: Why Digital Nomads And Sustainability Are A Match Made In Heaven
On the face of it, the digital nomad life doesn’t seem all that sustainable. Living out of
your backpack and relying on flights, disposable goods, and other unsustainable
things to get by.
But I believe digital nomads and sustainability are a match made in heaven. Why?
Because of the power they have as individuals.
The opportunities open to digital nomads to reduce their impact on the planet are
huge, capitalizing on their online presence to help others in the nomadic community
to live and work sustainably.
Read on to discover what you can do as a digital nomad to be sustainable and spread
the word yourself.
Plastic is a big issue for the planet, but especially so for digital nomads. Why not take
the plastic-free challenge and do your bit for the planet as you travel?
The issue of flights
Yes, digital nomads probably rack up more air miles than your average citizen. In fact, it’s
nigh-on impossible to be a digital nomad in 2019 without flying. If you want to get anywhere in the world, you’re going to need to book a flight at some point.
However, it is possible to make flying that bit more environmentally-friendly by changing how you fly. For example, rather than saving money by flying indirect, shell out for direct flights.
Take-off and landing requires a huge amount of fuel compared to the rest of the flight, and flying directly mitigates this.
As digital nomads, you probably count the pennies. But our commitment to the planet is
more important than staying in a nice Airbnb or eating in a high-end restaurant. Paying more for direct flights also means less time in the air, which in turn means you have more time to enjoy what’s on the ground.
The same goes by packing less, taking only one carry on may feel it has a low impact but it
is precisely weight that directly affects carbon production in transportation.
You can also consider offsetting your carbon footprint by buying carbon credits proportional to your flight. It will support carbon sequestration projects or support companies that mitigated their carbon production.
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No car? No problem!
While driving is much less polluting than flying, it’s still far from perfect. (unless you are using an electric car)
You can always use public transportation to get around or use bikeshare services like
Mobike that is spreading around the world.
If you really have to use a car, there are things you can do to mitigate the harmful effects of driving. For a start, you can carpool.
There are plenty of ridesharing apps and services around the world, especially in Europe. It’s safer than hitchhiking, and gives you the chance to meet a variety of different people.
If you do carpool, make sure every seat is filled. Hook up with other digital nomads to fill the seats — there are plenty of communities all over the globe you can connect with for this.
Basic car maintenance also goes a long way towards reducing our impact on the planet. Ensure your tires are inflated properly — low tire pressure means the car has to work harder, consuming more fuel as a result.
Try driving a little slower too, at around 55mph or less. Driving at a lower speed improves the mileage on your fuel, giving more bang for your buck and reducing your carbon footprint into the bargain.
There are plenty of sustainable business opportunities
One of the best ways that digital nomads can live sustainably is with the work they do. As
remote workers, your impact on the planet is already fairly negligible compared with that of brick-and-mortar offices, with the impact of energy usage, commuting, and daily waste that comes with it.
The industry you choose can help marry your digital nomad role with sustainability too. One of the most popular businesses for digital nomads is blogging. It’s accessible and easy
to get started with.
There is a range of blogging platforms open to you, from the popular WordPress to more niche sites such as gator by Hostgator or Weebly. Affiliate schemes and ad space are great eco-friendly revenue sources — and you can even use green affiliate programs.
Blogs are also great for spreading the word about sustainability as a digital nomad. Your
audience is likely like-minded individuals who share your passion for traveling, and your blog is the perfect platform for encouraging your community to be more sustainable as digital nomads.
Ecommerce is another popular choice for digital nomads. It’s easy to do and perfect for sustainable businesses seeking to minimize their impact on the planet. With little to no physical requirements such as warehouses or offices, it’s the perfect sustainable business route.
Even the content management system (CMS) you choose plays a role. Deciding between Shopify and WooCommerce is a choice many ecommerce focused digital nomads have to make. Both offer out of the box features that let you get started right away, but both also have a unique selection of apps that extend the functionality of your online store.
Powered exclusively for Shopify, Carbon Checkout is an app that allows your customers to make a contribution which offsets the carbon impact of their purchase by being invested into renewable energy projects.
Beyond your platform of choice, the business you choose carries your sustainability as a digital nomad. There are lots of ideas for sustainable businesses you can choose, for example:
● Products made from recycled materials: cork, plastic, glass — you can make
almost anything out of otherwise unusable waste.
● Ethical business practices: brands like Teemill promise to take your old Teemill t-
shirts and reuse them for later products. This limits waste and keeps the product
● Fairtrade sourcing: sell products sourced from only Fairtrade enterprises. Your
travels likely bring you into contact with many businesses that make for great
Don’t just live sustainably — work sustainably. The business you create has a significant
impact on the planet, and whether that’s a positive or a negative impact is up to you.
Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility, but especially so for digital nomads. Our
life is often seen as unsustainable, having a negative impact on the planet. But the
opportunities we have as digital nomads actually makes it a match made in heaven.
Follow the tips above, and with smart choices and strong ethical commitments, you
can lead a digital nomad life that is eco-friendly and sustainable throughout.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer and campaign designer for MicroStartups, a website focused on charities and microbusinesses. After years working in the sustainability, marketing and creative industries, Kayleigh now loves to devote her time to helping other businesses to grow and thrive. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter @getmicrostarted for the latest news, tips and advice for startups and solopreneurs.