Sustainable Living Practices for Expats in Vietnam

At, we’ve been the go-to resource for expats seeking work in Vietnam. But living abroad is about more than just finding a job. It’s about embracing a sustainable lifestyle that respects the local environment and culture. Here are some practical tips for expats in Vietnam who want to live more sustainably.

Shop local, eat fresh: Supporting local farmers markets for sustainable food choices.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Vietnam is a beautiful country, but it’s facing serious environmental challenges. Air pollution, plastic waste, and deforestation are all major issues. As an expat, you have an opportunity to make a positive impact by reducing your carbon footprint.

Pedal power: Opting for cycling to reduce carbon emissions.

One simple way to do this is by using public transportation or biking instead of driving a car or motorbike everywhere. Vietnam has an extensive bus and train network that can get you most places you need to go. And in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the traffic is so bad that biking is often faster than driving anyway!

You can also reduce waste by carrying reusable bags, water bottles, and straws with you. Vietnam has a huge problem with plastic waste, so every little bit helps. And when you do need to dispose of something, make sure to separate your trash and recycle what you can.

Eat Local and Seasonal

Peak freshness: Vibrant basket of local, seasonal vegetables.

Vietnamese cuisine is delicious, healthy, and often very sustainable. Many traditional dishes make use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients like herbs, vegetables, rice and seafood. By eating local and seasonal foods, you can support small businesses and farmers while reducing the environmental impact of your diet.

Look for restaurants that source their ingredients from nearby farms and markets. Avoid places that use a lot of imported foods, which have a much higher carbon cost due to transportation. You can also visit local wet markets to buy fresh produce directly from small-scale producers.

Eating low on the food chain by choosing more vegetables and sustainably-caught seafood over meat is also better for the planet. Luckily, Vietnam has an abundance of delicious vegetarian and pescatarian options to choose from!

Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodation

There are many wonderful places to live in Vietnam, from bustling cities to serene coastal towns. No matter where you decide to settle down, look for accommodation that incorporates green practices.

Some things to look for:

  • Use of solar power and energy-efficient appliances
  • Recycling and composting programs
  • Water-saving measures like low-flow toilets
  • Eco-friendly building materials like bamboo or reclaimed wood

Many new apartment buildings and housing developments in Vietnam are being built with sustainability in mind. You can also find eco-resorts and green hotels for short-term stays. When in doubt, just ask about a place’s environmental policies before booking.

Engage With the Local Community

Immerse yourself in culture: Participating in a vibrant local festival.

Getting involved with your local community is one of the best ways to live more sustainably as an expat. Look for opportunities to volunteer with environmental organizations, participate in beach cleanups, or support eco-friendly businesses.

Connecting with Vietnamese friends and neighbors can also help you learn more sustainable habits and traditions. For example, many Vietnamese are experts at reducing food waste by using every part of an ingredient in cooking. They can also teach you about natural, low-impact substitutes for household items like cleaners and cosmetics.

By immersing yourself in the local culture and building relationships, you’ll start to see Vietnam as your second home rather than a temporary place to live and work. This change in perspective can motivate you to take better care of the environment and community for the long term.

Overcome Cultural Challenges

Of course, living sustainably as an expat in Vietnam comes with some cultural challenges. The pace of development and the drive for economic growth often takes priority over environmental concerns. Habits like littering and excessive use of plastic bags and styrofoam are still common.

There can also be language barriers that make it harder to find information on green living or connect with like-minded people. And the value placed on convenience and saving face sometimes conflicts with more eco-friendly practices that might seem inconvenient or strange.

However, Vietnam is changing rapidly and awareness of sustainability issues is growing, especially among young people. By being patient, respectful, and leading by example, you can help further this positive shift. Focus on the things you have control over in your own life and find small ways to share your habits with others when possible.

Read more: Cultural challenges for expats living in Vietnam

At, we believe that expats have an important role to play in Vietnam’s sustainable development. By bringing your global perspective and green values with you when you move abroad, you can be part of the solution.

Of course, we know that navigating the job market in a new country is daunting enough on its own. That’s why we’re here to help you find great opportunities with employers who share your commitment to sustainability.

For personalized support in your job search or tips for eco-friendly living in Vietnam, don’t hesitate to contact us via phone, zalo or whatsapp at the link below. Together, we can work towards a cleaner, greener future for Vietnam and the world.

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