For many, the commute to the office looks entirely different now than it did a year ago. Especially since 55% of businesses globally offer some capacity for remote work due to the pandemic.
Working remotely has had a hybrid impact on the environment. Initially, countries around the world saw a relatively positive environmental impact, with a decrease in carbon emissions due to peak shut-down periods and fewer office commutes. Now, a year into working from home, scientists have observed increases in a household’s carbon footprint due to increased usage of gas/electricity while working from home.
In celebration of Earth Day, read on for a closer look at the environmental impact of working from home, and five tips on how you can usher in more sustainable practices to your day-to-day life.
1. Use more glass and aluminum products rather than plastic and paper
Now that you’re taking your “coffee break” from your home kitchen, consider the vehicles you’re using for beverages. Instead of reaching for bottled tea or a can of sparkling water, opt for making batches of tea using tea bags and a glass pitcher, make your own flavored water with fresh fruit and herbs, or purchase a Soda Stream.
Glass and aluminum can be reused an infinite amount of times whereas plastic can only be recycled two to three times, and paper products five to seven times. Making the sustainable switch to glass and aluminum will drastically reduce the pile up of plastic in your recycling bin — and do the earth some good.
2. Challenge yourself to swap out meat with veggies for one day every week
Did you know that the food, agriculture, and land use industry accounts for 26% of greenhouse gases emitted globally? Incorporating a plant-based diet is not only a nutritious way to consume more fruits and veggies, but it is also a more sustainable option for the environment.
But if you can’t quit all at once, try thinking of it as “adding more” fruits and veggies into your diet instead of “giving up” meat all together. Consider trying “Meatless Mondays” or start by switching to plant protein options from brands like, Raised & Rooted, Beyond Meat, and Impossible Foods.
3. Reduce online consumption and opt to shop locally
Online shopping has made it easier and faster than ever to shop and purchase goods — whether it’s groceries, meal delivery, clothing, or more. That said, online shopping habits in certain circumstances can actually be worse for the environment than driving to a store.
Reducing online consumption where possible, and opting to shop locally, is a great way to cut down on waste that ends up in landfills (and a great way to discover new brands and stores in your own neighborhood).
4. Give used items a new life
Take inventory of the things you consume and would normally dispose, and get creative and think of ways to reuse them. For example, give your takeout plastic containers a new life and consider using them to organize your everyday household items. 5 minute crafts on Youtube always has some fun, crafty ways to reinvent old stuff!
5. Embrace sustainable brands
Consider companies that offer more sustainable services. For example, Public Goods offer a sustainable and biodegradable home and goods line that has you covered from bathroom essentials to pantry favorites.
Loop offers brand favorites, like Hagen Dazs or Clorox wipes, as zero-waste packaging. Once you’re done using the packaging, you can send it back to be reused via waste free delivery!
Ready to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle? There are lots of sources to help you get started. In addition to kicking off with some best practices above, here are some additional favorite resources.
Watch. There are hundreds of documentaries dedicated to how we can curb our environmental impact and save the planet. Here are a few focused on sustainable living. Check out Biggest Little Farm, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, and Down To Earth series on Netflix.
Listen. With both podcasts and public radio being solid options here, you’ll get a great education on going green when you listen to “How to Save A Planet” podcast available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Being more environmentally conscious can seem like such a tall hill to climb, but sustainability is a journey. And the switch doesn’t just happen overnight. It comes over time, education and informed decision-making. But together, we can make a difference with what we have right now.