Staying Green While Working From Home During COVID-19

by Megan Kioulafofski
working from home

For all of you preoccupied by sustainability and staying green while working from home, this post is for you.

There’s no getting away from the fact that COVID-19 has changed our lives. In a lot of countries, people must wear masks even when doing ‘normal’ things like shopping or enjoying a coffee at their local cafe. And for many of us, COVID-19 has also changed the way we work. 

These days, most of the employers are nervous about having their teams back in the office. That’s why working from home has been prioritized, where possible.

Surprisingly, many managers have reported that their staff’s productivity has gone up during the coronavirus quarantine! But that’s not the only interesting fact to note about working remotely.

From an environmental perspective, working from home has also boosted our motivation for staying green. Whether you realize it or not, conducting most of our work from home has positively impacted both the environment and our health. The air is cleaner, and we’re using more disinfectant than ever.

Here’s the evidence:

1. Working From Home Has Lowered Our Carbon Footprint

One of the biggest eco-friendly benefits of working from home, is a lower carbon footprint. That’s because many of us no longer drive to work each day, or use public transport for commuting. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic first took a grip on the world, many nations reported lower CO2 emissions. That was due to fewer vehicles being on the road. Did you know that India, for instance, reported less energy consumption and a drop in fossil fuel emissions for the first time in 37 years?

You might think that your personal carbon footprint is a small drop in the ocean compared to the world’s collective greenhouse gas problems. However, if more of us are lowering our carbon footprint, the ozone layer will be positively impacted too. 

Of course, doing less road mileage isn’t the only way we’re staying green during quarantine. Let’s face it. Due to the current situation, many of us are undoubtedly more anxious about spending time in public spaces. Especially areas frequented by many other people, such as groceries and department stores.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that online shopping has grown significantly in the past few months. 

Luckily, these days, you can buy almost anything you need or want from the internet. From retailers to ophthalmologists, you can even purchase prescription eyeglasses from this website and have them sent by mail to your home address. Especially if you’re working on the computer all day, getting a pair of blue light blockers is a good idea. 

And when you’re hungry and in the mood for some take-out, your local restaurant is just a few taps away on your smartphone for near-instant delivery!

2. We’re Spending More Time Recycling Our Waste

Another advantage of working from home is that you don’t usually have to work set hours. Many employers only request their home-based staff to work a set number of hours each day, as they would while in the office.

That means you can do a few hours’ of workout in the morning, take a break in the afternoon, and continue working in the evening. As you can imagine, such flexibility is welcomed by many. Particularly when you’ve got small children that could distract you from your work.

As you work from home, your undoubtedly spending more time in your abode. And that’s giving you plenty of time to think about ways to improve your eco-friendly lifestyle and enhance the way you stay green at home. One such example of staying green when under lockdown is the way we choose to recycle our waste.

Most people lead hectic lives. Due to lack of time, many folks don’t always do the right thing and recycle their waste as much as possible. Yes, they might stop objects like paper from ending up in landfill sites. However, they might throw away other harder to recycle items such as plastic bags. 

Note: One way to avoid the hassle of using plastic bags (and having to find a way to recycle them) is to pick up a set of reusable shopping bags

If you have to spend a lot of time at home due to quarantine measures, improving your recycling processes should be on your to-do list. One way you can maximize your efforts is to create recycling ‘stations’ at home. This might encourage your family members also to join you in your mission.

According to the EPA, in 2017, Americans generated around 267.8 million tons of waste. Out of that waste, 67 million tons got recycled, and a further 27 million got composted. It’s good to know that most people are recycling in some way but going by the figures above, Americans only recycle around 35.1% of their trash. 

So there’s still plenty of work to do before reaching the stage where most of the waste gets recycled or repurposed. 

plastic waste at home

3. Our Paper Consumption Has Dropped Considerably

When you work in an office, most probably you need to print a lot of stuff out each day. There will be contracts, paperwork relating to customer orders, shipping labels, and so on.

Now that you’re working from home, one way you’re staying green is by consuming less paper. 

First of all, when working from home, physical storage space will be at a premium. And, quite frankly, even if that wasn’t the case, you don’t want boxes of paperwork in various parts of your home.

The second reason might well be down to data security. When you’re working with customer data in your home, there is seldom any provision to save and secure paper records. 

If your home has been broken into, or burnt down in a fire, that confidential information could either get stolen or turned into ashes. That’s something your boss isn’t willing to let happen.

Other than security, there’s also the technology aspect to consider. Ever since remote working became the norm, employers rely more on technology.

And some of the ways modern technology has helped reduce paper consumption include:

      • Database solutions. Thanks to advances in technology, there are now countless ways to transmit information from one location to another. Some database solutions offer a full end-to-end suite of services that both customers and suppliers use, especially during order creation and processing;
      • Electronic contracts. Gone are the days where you’d need customers to sign paper contracts. Digital contracts enable consumers and businesses to electronically sign documents using nothing more than their computers’ mice;
      • Shipping information. An increasing number of couriers don’t require senders to print out shipping documents such as manifests or air waybills. Shipping labels can get pre-printed by the courier and are given to the employees collecting the shipments to affix onto packages.

Thanks to these solutions, staying green has become a lot easier now. And as a result, our work-related paper consumption has also dropped significantly.

4. Less Food and Drink Packaging Waste

The majority of us are purchasing food and drinks every day when going to the office. Once consumed, these food packages usually get thrown in the trash cans under the desk. It’s not an unrealistic assumption to make that many of us don’t even give a second thought to the amount of plastic packaging waste we’re creating. But, now that many of us are working from home, such generated waste has dropped to extremely low levels.

When working from home, you will mostly prepare meals and hot drinks using your eco-friendly kitchen ingredients. There are no sandwich boxes to throw away and we’re using reusable cups and mugs for our coffee.

staying green by eating at home

For many people, the shift to working from home will undoubtedly make them think about staying green by not creating a ton of single-use waste. And if you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’re probably thinking about all the packaging waste you have generated in the past!

The trouble with many employers today is that they seldom have any in-office recycling facilities. Sure, they might have paper recycling points available for employees to use. But, those are typically only for documents rather than paper food packaging.

5. We’ve Turned Into Green Thumbs

Since the pandemic started, we’ve noticed that everyone is starting to grow their own plants and vegetables from home. Not only is this great for the environment, it’s great for your health, and your wallet too!

By eating home-grown food, you save money on your monthly grocery bills, and you are putting healthy, organic food into your body. Gardens also help the environment by reducing air and noise pollution, filtering the groundwater, minimizing your carbon footprint, and providing a home (and food) source for various animals and insects.

staying green at home growing vegetables

Gardening has to be one of the most prominent activities in 2020, even those who have never managed their own garden before getting excited about their plant babies growing big and producing a beautiful bounty. What’s not to love?

Our Final Word On Staying Green

Whether people like to admit it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we conduct our daily lives. And one of these major changes is the need to work from home.  

Now that winter is a mere few weeks away, there’s no sign of things returning back to pre-COVID times. For you, that will most likely mean you will have to spend a few more months working from your home.

And although most of us would like things to just get back to normal, there are still some positives to take away from remote working. 

For a start, we are now heading towards a greener lifestyle. Plus, the extra flexibility means we’ve got more time to spend with our families. Especially if you’ve got young children in tow!

Thank you for reading today’s article on staying green while working from home! For similar posts like this and more tips on living eco-friendly, make sure you follow our sustainable living blog.

And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below!

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