Lower your remote working carbon footprint – one step at a time
This Earth Day, make your remote-work life more sustainable
Telecommuting and remote work can be very sustainable options, compared to driving into a brick-and-mortar office every day. The commute from the bedroom to the home office uses much less energy than a 45-minute commute on the freeway.
That said, there are many other things to consider. Office-goers tend to see energy spikes in the morning and evening, whereas virtual workers may see consistent energy usage throughout the day. If you’re cooking up a storm at every meal, you may use more energy and hot water. And there’s the technology infrastructure that keeps us connected (yes, even the websites we visit and the zoom meetings produce carbon dioxide emissions).
We all have a responsibility to make a positive change for the Earth. It takes time to build positive habits that will have a positive impact on our environment. So let’s start small - even the littlest steps can help reduce your carbon footprint while working virtually.
So if you’re already working remotely, how can you shrink your carbon footprint?
Choose Natural Light
Choose your home office space so you can utilize natural light throughout the day. When it’s time to turn on a lamp, be sure to use energy-efficient bulbs, and avoid incandescent lights.
Keeping your workspace clean is very important. Keep those bacteria and dust bunnies away by choosing green cleaning products. You can enjoy a clean space without toxic chemicals. Not sure if your cleaning products are on the “good” list? Visit the Environmental Working Group to see how your everyday products rank.
Hot tip: Distilled vinegar and a reusable microfiber cloth work wonders!
Watch your thermostat… and your plugs
Heating and cooling account for more than half of a US household’s energy usage. Consider heating or cooling your home office space separately from the rest of the house, especially if you’re the only one at home. There's no need to run the heater to warm all the rooms in your house when you can just as easily use a space heater by your desk.
While you’re at it…
Working from home means electricity is pulsing through your house all day long, vs. spikes in the morning and at night for office-goers. Take into account which electronics are on during the day, and try to unplug which ones are not in use.
What’s for lunch- sustainable eating
When you’re working virtually, it’s easier to eat meals at home. That means less disposable waste, including those BPA-lined, unrecyclable fast-food wrappers. Your steps here may not only help the environment but your wallet too!
Silverware is more sustainable than single-use plastic utensils, but which is the best cleaning method? Both hand washing and dishwashing can make a case for the greenest option, so it comes down to personal preference. Be sure energy-efficient dishwasher only runs when it's full. If you handwash, stay mindful of your water flow.
Another step to lower your carbon footprint is to eat mindfully. Fruits, veggies, and other unprocessed, whole foods top the list to limit greenhouse gases.
Welcome to the dark [mode] side
What once started as an aesthetically pleasing way to view screens, "dark mode" has evolved into an energy-saving method. Dark mode is an interface that presents light text on a dark background, an inverted setting often available on smartphones and computers.
Screens that have an OLED screen use less energy when you switch to dark mode. OLED passes light through individual pixels, so pixels displaying the color black do not require energy. Plus, it looks cool.
Get out and enjoy nature
Whether it is a walk around your neighborhood, a visit to a nearby stream, or a road trip to a remote desert - get out and enjoy the outdoors. Virtual workers often have flexible moments to stand up from their desks and step outside for a moment or two. Take advantage of those moments (your mental health will thank you too).
Breathe in what the earth has to offer and breathe out a vow to help keep it around. (and pick up trash if you see it).