We may be biased, but there are few better places to start to be (or hopefully remain) conscious of living sustainably other than beautiful New Zealand. One of TEAN’s core values is Choose Earth: Live sustainably. Our programs and practices are designed to foster global thinking and informed local action because the individual choices we make have a global impact. Let’s truly work together and choose a sustainable future for our planet. Are you with us? Here are 10 ways to Choose Earth, and make a positive impact, while you’re studying abroad in New Zealand. 

Photo by TEAN Alum Emily Yu, University of Pittsburgh taken at Lake Tekapo
Photo by TEAN Alum Emily Yu, University of Pittsburgh taken at Lake Tekapo

1. Respect Customs

Respect New Zealand customs rules when entering the country, and enjoy the delicious and nutritious food you can find there. Biodiversity security is critical to the New Zealand environment and economy, and locals work hard to protect agricultural and horticultural stocks from insects and soil borne bacteria.

2. Eat Local

Eat local, eat seasonal. New Zealand is bountiful with fresh veggies, fruit and fish and proudly GMO free. Make sure you know what’s in season and you will be surprised how much you will save in dollars at the same time. When eating fish make sure it is a sustainable choice. Many fish stocks are being depleted and customer choices help influence changes to fishery catches. If you like fishing yourself, keep abreast of quantity and fish size rules.

Photo by TEAN Alum Cydnie Oleinick, Indiana University taken at the Wellington Farmers' Markets.
Photo by TEAN Alum Cydnie Oleinick, Indiana University taken at the Wellington Farmers’ Markets.

3. Recycle and Reuse

Choose second hand over new – need a sleeping bag, tent, bike, jacket, textbook, or jumper? Visit local recycling boutiques for bargains and to reduce clothing waste. Also ask around your uni mates, they may be able to lend or give you gear which you haven’t brought with you to New Zealand. This also means thinking about how you can pack lighter when coming to New Zealand too, reducing luggage weight reduces your carbon footprint. And if you buy secondhand, donate it back once you’re finished.

Photo by TEAN Alum Lauren Anderson, Drake University taken on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.
Photo by TEAN Alum Lauren Anderson, Drake University taken on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

4. Pop a Hottie

Use a hot water bottle – these little gems will help you get through the wintery months and also help ease aches. Instead of running a heater, pop a “hottie” in your bed about 10 minutes before getting into bed for a cozy and comfortable way to get a good night’s sleep. They are equally a great natural way to manage muscle and tummy aches and pains, instead of reaching for a pharmaceutical option. Choosing earth means thinking about impacts on your body and mind as well as (so not just the environment factors) making the right choices to achieve your own individual balance.

5. Explore responsibly

Keep on the trails and pathways to avoid erosion when you’re out in nature. They put overlooks in the best spots, no need to bushwhack around for a view.

keep-on-the-path
TEAN Alum Tiffany Young, University of Hartford taken on the Tongariro Northern Circuit

6. Be a Tidy Kiwi

Leave the place better than how you found it. Pick up stray trash when you see it. Join a beach clean-up or school volunteer day. Volunteer with a club on campus that gives back to the local community and research the mission of that club or person/people/things you’re helping.  New Zealanders have a national mantra of being a  “tidy Kiwi” – which pretty much translates to it being shameful to litter anywhere.

7. Air Dry

Opt for the breeze instead of the dryer. Most kiwis prefer to keep laundry costs to zero by using a washing line to dry clothes. It is unconventional there to use a dryer when wind power is accessible and free! It may be hard to incorporate this green idea at university housing as there might be restrictions on where to hang clothes, but definitely investigate your options once you arrive. It may need a little more forward planning than usual but worth it.

Photo by TEAN Alum Janelle Holte, Augsburg College who studied abroad in Wellington, New Zealand.
Photo by TEAN Alum Janelle Holte, Augsburg College who studied abroad in Wellington, New Zealand.

8. Use Public Transport

Before calling that Uber or taxi, think about using the great public transport systems in each city – or just walk. Most of the program locations are in compact, walkable cities. Of course, you’ll always want to take into consideration your safety when traveling, but consider the more sustainable options first. Much more to see on foot.

Photo by TEAN Alum Tiffany Young, University of Hartford
Photo by TEAN Alum Tiffany Young, University of Hartford

9. Have a Reusable Bottle

Use your TEAN water bottle when hiking, going to and from class, or just out and about. Instead of buying a new water bottle every time, get in the habit of utilizing a reusable bottle every day. This will also cut down on your costs while studying abroad and keep you well hydrated for those hikes.

10. Be Kind!

For your well being and happiness, spread kindness in everyday interactions with people you meet. Remove judgements and criticism from your thoughts and be open to embracing differences. Choosing the earth is choosing people. That means sometimes taking a breath and rising above difficult situations or simply giving a warm smile to someone you don’t know. It is common in New Zealand to help other people we don’t know, so don’t be afraid to give back as well, and you may be surprised about how it makes you feel and the reaction you receive from others.

New Zealand Flatmates | Photo by Gabriela Quinn, Loyola University New Orleans
New Zealand Flatmates | Photo by Gabriela Quinn, Loyola University New Orleans

Choosing Earth isn’t just an idea, it’s a responsibility and way of life! Let’s all be a part of it together.