5 ways to be green when working from home

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We’ve heard a lot about how lockdown is having a positive impact on the environment, thanks to a reduction in transport usage leading to less pollution. This unexpected by-product of staying home is a small positive in an otherwise challenging time. However, it’s important that we don’t offset it with new kinds of pollution from our current style of working.     

Here are some tips on how you can make your working from home experience more sustainable:

Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs. Use energy-saving lightbulbs to light your workstation, such as LED lights which require much less wattage than their counterparts. Even better, use natural light where possible when working – as well as saving you money, this can help make you more productive and alert1

Turn off your laptop. When you’ve finished work for the day and are about to make the long commute from your desk to your couch, make sure you truly shut down by turning off your laptop and unplugging it. Leaving a laptop plugged in all the time can use around 235 kilowatt-hours a year (depending on the model and battery). To put it into context, this can be more than the average person in some developing countries uses in the same period2.

Clean up your inbox. Did you know that every email sitting in your inbox is using up energy? Emails are stored on servers which – given there are about 3.9 billion email users in the world3 – need to use huge amounts of energy to operate. Try scanning your inbox once a month to clear out unnecessary emails, and don’t forget to empty your trash and junk folders.

Adjust your thermostat.  We all used to sit together in big office spaces, however, now we are operating out of home workspaces, which means a lot more usage of individual cooling or heating systems. Consider how you can be smart with your energy use. By adjusting your thermostat up 2 degrees in summer and down 2 degrees in winter, you could save 2,000 lbs of carbon dioxide per year4.

Make your notebook virtual. Rather than writing everything down on paper, try using an online notebook instead. If you do have a preference for paper, go for recycled materials if possible. 

Some countries are already back in their offices, while others are continuing to work from home. Even when this current situation is behind us all, take a moment to consider which of the above habits you could continue, to help support a more sustainable world.

References:

  1. https://medwinpublishers.com/EOIJ/EOIJ16000166.pdf
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/science/just-how-much-power-do-your-electronics-use-when-they-are-off.html
  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/
  4. https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Land/Waste/Recycling/PublicResources/Documents/0130-FS-DEP4126.pdf