Whether you’re a seasoned freelancer or your company’s corporate office is closed indefinitely, working from home is now more common than ever.
You’ve probably had to convert your kitchen, living room, or spare bedroom into a home office. You’re using more electricity and water, and you’re probably cooking at home a lot more. You’ve also probably noticed the impact it’s had on your wallet and how much you consume on a daily business.
That said, it’s time to rethink how we work from home and what we can do to live more sustainably every day.
What Does it Mean to Be Sustainable?
Sustainability is a complex concept that can be hard to define in just a few words. In short, sustainability is the term used for humankind’s responsibility to care for the earth so that it remains safe and habitable for future generations to come. We do this by implementing better systems of conservation and protection for our world.
Why is it So Important?
Our species has already done irreparable damage to the planet with toxic industrial practices, technologies, and careless consumption and waste. And it’s only getting worse. Before we know it, the earth’s temperature will rise to the point of no return, deeming many parts of the planet uninhabitable. The air will be so poor no one will be able to go outside. The oceans will be so toxic that beach days will be a thing of the past. We’re at the tipping point. The time is now or never to take action.
How Can You Work from Home Sustainably?
Saving the planet is by no means an easy feat, and certainly will not happen overnight. But, you can do plenty of little things in everyday life to help reduce your carbon footprint. Imagine if everyone took the time to cultivate small habits and make slight adjustments that prioritize sustainability. The long-term impact would be earth-changing! Preserving this beautiful planet will begin to look a lot more attainable.
A great place to start is right at home, especially if your house or apartment is also your office. Here are a few simple ways you can step up and live a more sustainable and meaningful life while working from home.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Growing up, most kids learn quickly that the thermostat is hands-off. Mom and Dad weren’t paying to heat the outside, after all. Now that you’re older, you can probably agree that paying an arm and a leg for electricity is not a fun-filled expense. Not only does it hurt the pocket, but it also has negative environmental impacts.
Lowering the temperature during the winter and raising it in the summer by just a few degrees can significantly decrease your monthly bill and help fight global warming. You can also invest in a smart thermostat, like the Google Nest, which learns your preferred temperatures and adjusts automatically at scheduled times to conserve energy.
Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
You can also save energy by choosing eco-friendly lighting. LED lights save 80% more energy than regular bulbs and last up to six times longer, so you’ll buy less of them over time. They also contain no toxic chemicals, so you don’t have to worry about contaminating the environment once you throw them away.
If you want to conserve even more energy, look into buying smart light bulbs. They are super affordable and are compatible with smart devices you may already have, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. You can even get color-changing bulbs that are great for creating ambiance.
Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
Electronics like televisions, microwaves, cable boxes, computer chords, and even cell phone chargers are still using energy when not in use. These “energy vampires” (yes, that’s a real term!) are draining power constantly, even when they are turned off completely.
The best way to slay energy vampires is to unplug electronics when you’re not using them. Alternatively, you can use smart power strips to conserve energy and contribute less harm to the environment. The keyword here is smart. A regular power strip will still waste energy when plugged in. A smart power strip can actually recognize when an electronic is not in use and cut the power.
Choose Environmentally-Friendly Office Supplies
There are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to supplying your home office. Unfortunately, many of them are not made with the environment in mind, and often get used one time and discarded.
Do your part to positively impact the environment by being more conscious about the products you buy. More companies are making it a point to source sustainable materials to make all their products. There are a ton of eco-friendly office supplies out there that are made from bamboo, cotton-based acetate, recycled plastic, and other biodegradable alternatives.
Everything from paper and pencils to phone cases and laptops sleeves can be made with the earth in mind. You can even have eco-friendly business cards made! It just takes a little research to find the best earth-friendly products.
Buy Less, Reuse More
When you’re looking for your planet-friendly office supplies, try to source products that can be reused or are long-lasting. If you need to use paper, buy a paperless notebook, like the Rocketbook. It comes with a specially-designed pen and microfiber cloth. Just write, scan your work, and erase to use again!
If your morning routine includes stopping at your favorite coffee shop, don’t take the paper cup that you’re just going to throw away. Get a reusable coffee cup and bring that with you instead. Another great way to reduce and reuse is to buy gently used office furniture. There are plenty of online marketplaces that list stuff for sale locally, like office desks, chairs, and bookshelves.
Learn How to Recycle (the Right Way)
People have good intentions when it comes to recycling. Still, many are not doing it effectively, so most recyclable products end up in the landfill. Waste Management’s website outlines these three rules of thumb for recycling:
- Recycle clean cans, bottles, and flattened cardboard.
- Leave out food or liquid in your recycling.
- Don’t recycle loose plastic bags or bagged items.
You can recycle food and beverage bottles and containers, but the caps are often not recyclable, so be sure to ditch them in the trash. You cannot recycle plastic wrap, film, and cups with wax or plastic coating either. Also, anything that can get tangled in the recycling machines like plastic bags, is not recyclable.
Do Your Part to Preserve the Earth.
It cannot be said enough that we all have to pitch in and work together to save our planet. Small gestures like unplugging electronics and buying eco-friendly office supplies are a great start to living a more environmentally conscious life.