Whether its out of choice or necessity, bringing your job into your home can be a huge step, which will ultimately affect a number of aspects of your life. Whether you’re self employed or your boss is making big cuts, working from home can have a number of advantages and disadvantages. One thing’s for certain though, it’s a fantastic way to go green and brings about a number of opportunities to cut your carbon footprint. Learn how to make the most of the eco benefits of working from home with these tips, and you should soon start to reduce the carbon emissions of your daily work routine.
The key culprits: what you can instantly cut out by working from home
Working from home allows you to cut a large number of factors from your daily routine which would usually contribute to your carbon emissions and generation of waste. Straight away, by working at home, you are able to eliminate:
carbon emissions generated by your daily commute
waste of excess food packaging from shop-bought sandwiches, or the reliance on plastic lunch boxes for packed lunches
the need for a whole wardrobe full of office wear, and having to adhere to energy consuming laundering processes to keep it in good condition
As well as letting you cut out some of the key contributors to your carbon footprint, working from home gives you the freedom to make eco friendly choices for yourself, rather than having to follow a company policy or use their own office supplies or furniture. Now that you have the freedom to run your office how you want, you can really make sure that your workplace is as green as it can be.
How to keep your home office green
Unlike a public workplace, electricity consumption has a direct impact on you, and there’s no company coffer to fit the bill. Leave your computer switched on all day and it’s you who ultimately has to pay, but this responsibility can also bring a lot of freedom. While this new situation can be daunting, it’s a great incentive to be more mindful of your power useage and get rid of bad habits. As the sole bill payer, you have the freedom to make important decisions such as how many hours a day air conditioning is used for, or when to put the heating on in winter, without having to negotiate with colleagues. Work out how much power you will need to be both productive and comfortable, while considering the ultimate financial and environmental cost, and learn to strike the balance, without having to answer to anyone else.
It isn’t just the way you use electricity in your home office which affects your overall emissions. Buying the right computer or other technology can make a big difference in saving energy whilst working. Embrace your freedom from generic office computers and choose one with some decent eco credentials. If your computer use doesn’t stretch much more than using the internet, typing or making spreadsheets, it may be worth choosing a laptop over a desktop. The most eco friendly models of laptop use less than 35 watts when in use, and consume as little as 2 watts when in sleep mode. If choosing a desktop computer, the most efficient models will run on less than 75 when running, and less than 4 in sleep mode. It also pays to look for accreditation such as the EU Energy Star to guarantee the most efficient technology in your home office.
If your computer use is limited to basic internet access, consider buying a netbook or tablet, which allow you to access the whole of the world wide web, without extra computer features which you may not need.
Choose eco friendly office furnishings when setting up your workplace at home. After all, it’s your office now, you can use whichever furniture you want! Forget mass-produced plastic chairs and cheap MDF desks- why not breathe new life into a second hand, wooden desk or see if anyone is getting rid of an old office chair. If buying new, look for accreditation from the Forest Stewardship Council, or choose furniture made from sustainable materials such as bamboo.
When you first start out, creating your eco office from an empty room in your home can be tricky. Ask around- you may find other local business owners who are having an office clear out and you may find yourself a few bargains.
Change your habits
Let’s face it, if you’re reading this and choosing to work from home as a way to reduce your carbon footprint, you probably already have a number of energy saving, waste-reducing measures in place at home. Working in a building powered by solar panels, which implements rain water collection and recycles regularly is always going to be a greener choice than one which doesn’t, especially if that place happens to be your home. A lot of the time, however, a conscious change in habits is needed for the eco benefits of working at home to be felt.
Try to restrict the number of pages you print or photocopy each day. Keep your files well organised in order to keep important documents safe, but paperless. This makes it easier to share files via email whilst keeping your office free of clutter.
As you would in the rest of your home, make recycling an integral part of keeping your office clear of clutter and free of waste. Reuse paper and other stationary when you can, and of course, if you do have to use paper, choose the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled paper available.
Try to always be mindful of the resources you use in every task. If you already live a green lifestyle at home, switching to using a green home office should be no different, and can allow your work life to be just as sustainable as your down-time.
You can find some tips on how to improve your productivity and maintain a positive frame of mind whilst working at home, here.
Image sourced: Kathy Poncetagsgreen workplacehome and furnishingworking from home