Everyone has heard the warning signs: global warming is real, and we need to act fast. From workplace cafeterias swapping out single-use plastics and styrofoam for regular plates and utensils, to creating workspaces that fully utilise natural light to reduce electric bills or merely opting to choose a more sustainable gas and energy supplier for your business, it seems that many employers are already doing their bit to be more sustainable. But, could the real eco-heroes be home-workers and the self-employed?
One of the most significant differences between those who work from home and those who work at the office is their conservation of energy. Gas and electricity consumption in the workplace are often extremely high given the number of people and the number of computers, laptops and printers in use at any one time.
For those who chose to work from home, however, it’s a different story. Those working from home are likely to use less energy which is going to save money as well as help conserve resources, which all, in turn, helps reduce their carbon footprint and be more sustainable.
There are several ways you can save on energy by working from home. One of the big ones is, of course, turning off electricals and appliances when they aren’t in use as this will go a long way to prevent unnecessarily wasting energy. Installing solar panels, purchasing refurbished or energy-efficient equipment and reducing paper usage and printing are also significant steps forward for sustainability at home.
For a lot of people, location is everything when it comes to where they work. If you happen to live within realistic walking distance of your place of work, then you’re in the lucky minority, but for a lot of people, the commute to and from work is a deciding factor in whether they accept that job, or if they work from home. In the long run, though, working from home is not only a time saver and more cost efficient for most people, but it goes a long way to aid sustainability.
In American for example, those working from home save more than $1,700 a year in fuel if they work from home just 2 and a half days out of a 5-day work week as more than 98% of an employee’s carbon footprint is directly attributed to their commute to and from the workplace.
Here in Britain, those who are self-employed are 1/3 more likely to use public transport if they need to get around compared to full-time workers. 42% of self-employed people are actively more eco-friendly by choosing to walk if they need to get somewhere during the workday, compared to full-time employees who are likely to drive for even short distances.
With fuel emissions and gas purchases for vehicles being the most significant contributor to your carbon footprint, walking, using public transport or car sharing when working at home is your best option to take steps towards being more sustainable.
While most employees are quick to declare their intentions to be more sustainable, most rarely follow through. While it is partially down to willpower, a lot of this is down to employers making it convenient for old habits to die hard.
3 in every 10 in the workplace will throw plastics in regular waste bins, happily pay for plastic bags during lunch breaks or throw out single-use coffee cups and straws after each use. However, on the flip side, those who are self-employed or work from home are more likely to prepare their lunch and coffee and therefore use in reusable containers, dishes and mugs, more likely to use recycling bins in their own homes and unlikely to use waste paper on unnecessary printing.
Workplaces have made significant leaps forward in their sustainability efforts in recent years but it appears on the sustainability front working from home is still the best option for those who are more concerned with being sustainable.
What do you do when you’re working from home to make sure you’re being sustainable? Let me know in the comments.