Written by Ella Tindle
Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, most industries are continuing their work from home streak as we head into the new year. But what about sustainability? Can working from home save the planet? And how can we play our part in reducing our carbon footprint from our home offices?
Many office-based companies have practices in place to help reduce consumption and do their bit to support employees to work sustainably when they’re in the office. However, when we’re on our own at home, it can become more of a challenge to keep up with sustainable practices. Here are a few ways to help you continue doing your bit for the planet.
What Is Sustainability?
Firstly, let’s address what sustainability is. Sustainability is all about meeting our needs in such a way that does not compromise the ability for future generations to meet their own needs.
Environmental sustainability is only one of three branches of sustainability. It primarily focuses on conserving the earth’s environmental systems. It also promotes humans consuming natural resources at a rate where the resources can replenish themselves.
A sustainable lifestyle centres around eating, transportation, socialisation, energy use, and waste disposal. Environmental sustainability aims to create a cycle of existence that can be repeated indefinitely without cumulative damage or harm to living things.
Sustainability in the workplace often focuses on green offices and environmentally conscious employees. Despite this, businesses continue to add to the climate crisis. Did you know that if every office worker in the UK used one less staple a day by using a reusable paper clip, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved in one year?
Why Should We Care?
The motivation to live sustainably is complex and different for everyone. Those who prioritise living sustainably often cite personal or community-oriented reasons for their lifestyle.
A sustainable life helps to reduce our carbon footprint and slow down climate change. Living sustainably isn’t something we do for personal gain. Climate change affects us all. And building a sustainable lifestyle will benefit us all too. Combating climate change by living sustainably will help to: preserve the rainforests, keep our air clean, slow down rising sea levels, and put an end to rising maximum temperatures.
While we’re working from home, it might feel like we’re already playing our part in the climate change crisis. The carbonless commute to your home office is doing wonders for the environment already. But there are even more ways to positively impact the environment and reduce our carbon footprint.
A small change, such as switching your traditional thermostat for a smart thermostat, like Nest, can be a small change with a big ecological impact. Electronic thermostats can be programmed according to the day and week. This allows its users to save money and energy by eliminating the need to keep a building warm or cool for longer periods of time than necessary.
For many of us, one day at work can equal pages of brainstorming, lots of scraps of paper, and heavy-scribbled-on notebooks. All of which end up in the bin. How can we do better?
The first step to a more environmentally sustainable workday is ensuring that any paper you have used is recycled correctly. Moreover, we can improve our sustainability by cutting down on paper use altogether. And that’s where the Rocketbook comes in. The Rocketbook is an endlessly reusable smart notebook. Priding itself on that real paper feel, the Rocketbook is the environmentally sustainable alternative to paper—a digital solution for a modern-day problem. Incorporating ethical equipment into the workday means that every one of us is doing our little bit to reduce our carbon footprint.
The key to avoiding draining the earth’s resources is sometimes staring us right in the face. The US Department of Energy states that 75% of the electricity used to power home appliances is consumed when the appliances are turned off. Unplugging devices that are not being used, or, even better, using a plug with a timer, can not only help to reduce your electricity bill, but also your carbon footprint.
Dr Parul Sharma affirms that ambient lighting and the brightness of your screen contribute to the added strain on your eyes. To combat the stress on our eyes, we should: keep the screen arm’s length away, consider wearing blue light filter glasses, and take breaks away from the screen.
In addition, ophthalmologist Dr Alan Solinksy recommends avoiding a setting that’s too dimly lit. In its place, the working environment should be softly illuminated with natural light. Not only does soft, natural light reduce the strain on your eyes, it can also work as a mood booster.
Exposure to natural daylight is linked to improved energy and mood. In terms of its impact on your work, an abundance of natural light can improve motivation and workplace performance, while promoting feelings of peace and calm. Conversely, artificial light can trigger headaches, promoting nervousness and fatigue.
As the world (slowly) returns to normal, we should start to ask ourselves how we can travel more sustainably.
In the UK, we love our cars. But, unfortunately, they’re one of the biggest culprits of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, we keep using them and continue to contribute to the problem. In 1990, road traffic in the UK was at 255 billion miles. This has steadily increased to 328 billion miles in 2018.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to adopt car sharing or use public transport. Moreover, we can even start to ask ourselves if the travel is necessary. Do you really need to drive 40 minutes for that 10 minute chat? Or would a Zoom call suffice?
How We Can Help
And while you’re busy working from home and saving the environment, you might need someone to walk your dog. Or do some web design. Or translate your novel. You can find students to complete these tasks on the Phavour app. What’s more—we’re partnered with Make it Wild and plant a tree for each executed task on the app! This helps to offset the carbon footprint from the task—easy and ethical.
If you want to find out how Phavour can help you, or have any questions, head over to our contact page to get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you!