Working from home affects each of us differently. Some of us are focused on figuring out how we can stay focused and productive from home, without just napping all day or getting distracted by the blend of home and work. Others of us are relishing in the opportunity to work at our own pace and set our own schedules away from the pressures and distractions of the office.
While there are many strategies and adjustments you may need to make, it may be helpful to think of working from home as not only a potentially beneficial change for you and your workflow, but also for the overall environment.
While there may be a global pandemic causing many people to work from home, there is an underlying global “disease” in the form of climate change. It’s an environmental pandemic, and its impact may be felt for generations to come. While our ability to individually make a difference may be limited, the collective impact of so many of us working from home may actually have some powerful positive consequences for the environment.
Is working from home a green solution? Here are some of the greatest benefits to working from home—for the environment, and for generations to come.
1. Using less fossil fuels
This is perhaps the most immediately obvious benefit to working from home. Less driving!
When we drive less, we use less fossil fuels that emit carbon into the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect, which increases global warming. Every morning and afternoon commute compounds the problem—and the volume of cars causes drivers to start and stop more frequently, which takes more energy and burns even more gas.
In addition to carbon, other gases emitted by vehicles contribute to nasty air pollution. In major urban centers around the world, air pollution has become a growing problem as more and more vehicles crowd the roadways and spurt gas into the air. The ability to simply not drive as frequently is probably the single biggest benefit for the environment.
In addition to environmental benefits, you probably won’t miss that long, often stressful morning and evening commute! Consider not only the positive environmental impacts, but the way it affects your mental health as well.
2. Using less paper
According to the EPA, Americans use close to 69 million tons of paper and cardboard products every year. That’s almost the same weight as four million semi trucks!
Fortunately, remote workers tend to use software-based working solutions. Rather than leaving sticky notes everywhere, virtual note-taking and to-do apps take their place, and many faxes and printed documents are replaced by electronic communications. Though paperless offices are trending nationwide, it’s especially easy to avoid the use of unnecessary paper when working from home.
Less paper means less wasted products taking up space in our landfills, and of course more trees to consume some of that carbon and release all that precious oxygen we need to breathe. Shuffle papers no more and breathe easy, thanks to working from home!
3. Using less plastic
When you’re working away from home, the temptation is always there. It’s so much easier to simply order out for lunch than it is to do the vigilant meal prep that requires spending your precious free time at home preparing.
But when you’re home all the time, prepping meals isn’t a chore, it’s simply something you can do whenever you want! Most telecommuters tend to eat at home, make their own coffee, and generally reduce their dependence on single-use plastics.
The EPA estimates that 75.5% of plastic waste just goes straight to the landfill, leaving a small percentage to be recycled or combusted. This is a huge contributing factor to rising pollution rates around the world...not to mention how easily plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Staying at home can dramatically reduce individual plastic use.
4. Working from home uses less energy
A recent study by Sun Microsystems confirmed what we all suspect to be true: people are much more careful about energy consumption at home than they are in the office. We are much more conscious about the energy we use in our home offices than we are in a shared building where the company foots the electric bill.
People who work at home tend to conserve energy and monitor their use of air conditioning and heating more, as well as reduced use of lights. Plus, the energy and gas consumed by morning and evening commutes is completely eliminated when people can work from home.
5. Working from home frees you up to give back
With all the extra flexibility that comes with working from home, many people get creative and even give back with some of the extra time they have. Thanks to our ability to move our hours around, we can set aside some time in the afternoon to volunteer at an urban garden, or join an outdoor program to preserve the natural beauty of our surroundings.
There are so many ways to give back to the environment with our time, even in very small ways, that simply wouldn’t be possible if we were working in an office from 9-5 every day.
The possibilities to make a positive impact in the world and do our very best work are one of the greatest benefits of working from home, which is why many people are furnishing their home offices with smart tools and ergonomic office furniture, like an ergonomic office desk chair, to weather the future months. It may just turn into a long-term trend that defines how we work in the future!
What do you think? Is working from home helping you think creatively about how you can give back to the environment? Let us know in the comments!
Image by James Dear via The Lighting Judge
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