With Earth Day around the corner you’re likely starting to feel engrossed in media content around sustainability, climate change, and going green! Conversations about these topics will only continue to increase as the global community strives to raise awareness and combat the climate effects taking place on our planet. In fact, one good thing to come from the pandemic is that’s given our planet a bit of a breather. The lockdowns and surge in remote work decreased carbon emissions by 15% from March to June in 2020. But, how to be more sustainable when working from home doesn’t stop there.
Sure, the decrease in commuting and office work positively impacted carbon emissions, especially during the initial lockdowns. But we can’t forget about the impact that we make at home. We have an opportunity to create change individually as well as collectively.
Working from Home Sustainability
Remote work sustainability requires mindfulness. Everyone has habits in place. Some we are not willing to change. Home is where we get to be comfortable and relax. Maybe we don’t have to sacrifice all convenience to make a difference. Every small step matters.
Recycling and composting is one way to start. You may even save space in your trash can at the same time! Yes, sometimes recycling and composting can be overwhelming. There are a lot of guidelines. Depending on where you live some items may be recyclable, some may not. But keep in mind, you can start off slow. Commit to recycling one type of product, like soda cans, that you know you can recycle for sure. Every small action collectively makes a big impact.
Purchase Sustainable Supplies
If recycling feels too challenging, that’s okay. Try shifting your perspective. Shop sustainably and ethically. Instead of recycling plastic bottles, commit to only using reusable water bottles. Take it one step further and choose a water bottle brand that produces their products ethically. Many brands develop products using recycled materials. Some brands even contribute to other organizations fighting climate change.
Finding how to be more sustainable when working from home is possible because you have more flexibility, more options. You get to decide what furniture to buy for your new home office. You can choose eco-friendly paper products. Or try not to use paper products at all! Companies like Swipies are creating reusable dry-erase pads and post-its to help minimize single-use products. If you’re a pen and paper fan like me, you don’t have to give that up! In fact, companies like Rocketbook are developing products that sync with technology. You can write in a notebook and scan the content from your phone into the cloud. You can have your cake and eat it too!
Technology Isn’t Always Sustainable
Technology is another part of work from home sustainability that requires mindfulness. Yes, technology saves us from using more paper or other resources, but it also consumes a lot of energy. With the rise in remote work many people have doubled up on the number of laptops, desktops, iPads, etc. More often than not, all our devices stay plugged in indefinitely. Even if you turn off a device, but leave it plugged into an outlet it can continue to draw electricity. One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly at home is to unplug, or power down, as many electronics as possible when you’re not using them. That includes your toaster, lamps, desktops, and more.
Similarly, another big energy drainer is heating and cooling systems. At the start of the pandemic many people were talking about the increase in their utility bills. No longer being in the office we were forced to foot the bill. Equally notable, is the fact that large buildings tend to have more sophisticated heating and cooling systems. Meaning, they tend to be more energy efficient that most homes. An easy way to help you monitor your energy consumption is by investing in a smart thermostat like Nest. Nest monitors your existing heating and cooling system and learns what temperature you like in order to determine a more energy efficient schedule. After a few years of cost saving it can even end up paying for itself.
Add Adventure to Your Work From Home Sustainability Plan
When it comes to sustainability and climate change, information can be overwhelming and upsetting. It is easier said than done, to stay informed when information comes from every angle and from sources spanning the globe. But take comfort in the fact that everyone is dealing with this and we are dealing with it together. Start with one thing. One news source. One effort. Something is always better than nothing.
To inspire you in how to be more sustainable when working from home, try going back to basics. Get outside. Be in nature. There is no better reminder of why the Earth matters than connecting with Mother Earth herself. Maybe even try working outside if the weather is nice and you’re able to find an internet connection. Coffee shops and co-working spaces are slowly becoming more accessible as well. Try working somewhere new if possible.
You may be thinking, “Is this still relevant?” Many people and companies are returning to offices. But few are returning full-time and at full capacity. The green strategies we implement at home now can still live on. Maybe, they can even be implemented at your office in the future. Sustainability is here to stay!