In 2016, Seoul was ranked as the 7th most sustainable city in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index. For those living in Seoul, this will hardly come as much of a surprise; litter is rarely found on the streets and the dedication to waste disposal in the city is remarkable.
Whether you are living in Seoul permanently, working here for a short period, or simply stopping by as a tourist, you can make a difference in the city with a few small, everyday habits.
Take Your Own Cup
Cafe culture is an important part of modern Korean life; a coffee cup is almost a fashion statement in the capital. However, the excessive waste produced from the plastic lined takeaway cups has a detrimental impact on the environment.
Reduce waste by bringing your own reusable cup when you visit a cafe – some coffee shops will offer a discount to customers who do this!
Bring Your Own Bag
Invest in a couple of canvas bags which you can take shopping and use instead of plastic bags. These can be purchased in subway station shopping centres, street markets and high street stores at a low cost.
Bringing your own bag will reduce waste and you will save money on the fee most stores charge for plastic carrier bags.
Avoid Takeout And Delivery Service
Although the food service in Seoul is extremely convenient and cheap, the waste this industry produces is phenomenal. Rather than using a delivery service or ordering takeout, eat inside the restaurant to reduce waste and lower your carbon footprint.
This avoids the unnecessary waste produced by food containers, wooden chopsticks and plastic spoons. Eating out will also encourage you to visit local eateries which are a far more environmentally friendly option than chains.
Don’t Take Receipts
Unless it is necessary, do not take receipts when you make a purchase. This may seem like a small action, but the waste produced by receipts quickly adds up and can easily be avoided.
In most stores, the cashier will give you the option to take a receipt, so make sure to say no.
Spend Time In Nature
If you are planning a day out in Seoul, opt for the more environmentally friendly activities such as visiting parks, mountains and gardens. Not only will this help the environment, but it will expose you to the natural beauty of Seoul which is by far the most impressive aspect of this metropolitan city.
The Cheonggyecheon Stream was built as part of an urban renewal project and is worth a visit for any tourist or long-term resident of Seoul. This stream hosts the Seoul Lantern Festival, which is a favourite attraction for many pedestrians.
The Han River is a popular spot during summer where citizens and tourists can enjoy a variety of activities such as bike riding and water sports. There are plenty of places to grab something to eat and drink along the riverside for those who want to have a picnic in the evening.
Hiking is an environmentally friendly hobby which is enjoyed by many citizens of Seoul. If you are interested in hiking around Seoul, and the rest of Korea, take a look at our recommendations.
Understand The Garbage System
The garbage system in Seoul may be confusing for foreigners at first glance. But it is extremely simple to understand if you take the time to read through our complete guide to the garbage disposal system.
For tourists who are out and about, recycling bins can be found all over the city.
Eat Less Meat
Although meat is a fundamental part of Korean cuisine, the meat industry is an extremely unsustainable one and will have a huge impact on your carbon footprint.
When eating out, choose more vegetarian options such as bibimbap, kimbap or naengmyeon. Read through our guide to vegetarianism and veganism in Seoul to discover how delicious vegetarian food in the city can be.
Additionally, if you are living in Seoul for a while, cook your own meals rather than eating out. This is a far more sustainable way to eat and will end up being healthier and cheaper too.
Chemical Free Beauty Products
Most beauty products are full of chemicals which are toxic to the environment. In a society where a 10-step beauty regime is not unusual, this is having a terrible impact on the environment.
Check out the following eco-friendly brands which are committed to the use of natural ingredients. These brands are better for the environment, more sustainable and highly recommended by customers!
Support Local Businesses
Chain restaurants and cafes can be found on every street corner in Seoul. Where possible, support small and local businesses. This will help the local economy develop and support the growth of smaller communities around the whole city and not only in wealthy areas.
Turn Off Heating Devices
Although it is tempting to take advantage of the unique floor heating system, this has an extremely negative impact on the environment. Combat the extreme climates without harming the environment by wrapping up warm, visiting a Korean spa and enjoying a wintry drink in the colder months.
Incorporating these small habits into your daily life will have a huge impact on the environment and the lives of citizens in Seoul.
How many sustainable habits will you try out today?