Five ways to lower your remote working carbon footprint
Did you know that working from home can both positively and negatively affect CO₂ emissions? Not too long ago, working from home was seen as just for freelancers and part-timers. Modern technology made most computer-based work possible to be done from anywhere. But there still seemed to be a lack of trust between employers and employees to get work done while not physically being at a desk in view of other colleagues.
Suddenly, the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head, and everyone was forced to stay at home.
Rather than hurting productivity, businesses around the world began to see that their employees could be just as productive at home as in the office. In lots of cases, even more so. In fact, this ‘new normal’ of working ended up being so successful that many businesses adopted some form of long-term hybrid working system once restrictions had been lifted.
It wasn’t just working systems that benefitted from this revelation – with fewer cars on the road during the lockdown, fossil-based carbon dioxide emissions fell to an all-time low.
But now that we’ve adopted this way of working for some time now, studies are finding that our hybrid working carbon footprint could actually counterbalance the good effects of not going into the office every day. After all, we’re now using a lot more energy at home than we used to.
So if you’re working from home or remotely more often, here are five ways to reduce your carbon footprint even further.
1. Go paperless
One of the perks of not being at the office is not having to deal with bulky PowerPoint presentation printouts anymore. Go a step further and swap your paper notebook and desk calendar for free digital apps like Google Keep and Google Calendar. Not only does this help save a few trees, but also makes it easier to access your notes and schedule from anywhere. And they’re easier to share with colleagues, too.
You can also make sure you only print documents out if absolutely necessary. Not only will this save energy and trees, but it’ll also save you a small fortune in printer ink over time.
2. Ease off large email attachments
You might not expect emails to affect your ‘remote work carbon footprint’. But unsurprisingly, the internet itself uses a massive amount of energy. The carbon footprint of an email is about 4g of carbon dioxide according to climatecare.org. Add a large attachment to that email, and it shoots up to as much as 50g.
While it might be a big ask to stop sending emails altogether, there are ways to limit the impact your internet and computer usage has on the environment. For example, not hitting ‘Reply all’ unless necessary, using a greener cloud provider to store your files, and dimming your monitor so it uses less energy.
3. Switch to a better energy provider
If you’re looking for ways to save energy, why not kill two birds with one stone by switching to a cheaper energy provider too? While changing your habits will make savings in both energy and money, finding a better deal for the energy you use will help with keeping on top of your bills.
While the recent price cap increase saw energy prices soar, there are still some companies like Utility Warehouse that offer consumers the chance to save money. For example, they can save their customers money on energy when they bundle multiple services with them. You can also get a free latest-generation smart meter with them, which lets you keep track of your energy use in near-real time. So you can take steps to adjust your usage and make even more savings.
4. Go literally green with plants
Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, but office plants are proven to boost productivity, too. So by getting a few for your home office, you’ll be supporting your mental health as well as the environment.
You’ll want to choose your plants wisely as different plants thrive in different environments. Wired’s article gives some handy suggestions for plants that do well indoors.
5. Switch off
Putting your TV or computer in sleep or standby mode is convenient, but they still end up using energy while in this state. If you’re not going to use electronics for a while – especially at night – make sure you completely power down and switch them off at the mains.
And even though they may seem obvious, remembering small things like switching lights off in rooms that aren’t being used and only filling the kettle with the amount of water you need for one boil can save a lot in the long run.