Making Our Professional Lives More Environmentally Friendly
There is a growing shift towards sustainability in every aspect of our personal lives. Whether at home or work, finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint has become a focus for many people. This reflects the transport we use, how we power and heat our homes, and now, where we work.
In the past year, more opportunities to work from home and reduced transport emissions have been a concrete demonstration of the impact of our working lives on the environment. How then do we continue to improve our footing on eco-friendly work and life?
Here, we explore how you can tailor your work life to improve your eco-friendly footprint.
Working from home became a new experience for many people during the pandemic. In April 2020, the Office for National Statistics recorded that 46.6 per cent of people in employment did some remote work. 86 per cent of these people did so because of the pandemic, demonstrating a sharp shift in the working experience.
Remote working has, of course, reduced emissions from transport. In the UK, commuting emits 18 billion kg of CO2e every year. This is 25 per cent of all transport emissions. Naturally, people working from home will not contribute to this.
Choosing a job that enables you to work from home can help improve your personal environmental impact. Remaining home is a sure-fire way to reduce your commuting emissions.
Remote working has become a more popular option for people in recent years. Even before the pandemic, Google searches for ‘work from home jobs’ had seen a steady increase. Between 2016 and 2019, searches for this term increased by 22 per cent. By 2020, this rose to 73 per cent over the past five years.
Making our homes even more sustainable
Of course, when spending more time at home, our energy consumption will increase. Let’s look at an average working schedule of 40 hours per week, 47 weeks per year. In total, working from home means that you would spend an extra 78 days at home. You’ll be using more of your home appliances and heating than usual, especially during the winter months.
With an average supplier, the annual CO2 emissions of the energy you use at home would be around 3.2 tonnes.
This poses a slightly different eco-challenge for those who are making the most of remote working capabilities to live in more rural residences. In this case, off-grid oil is used more than more sustainable gas options to heat rural homes. However, for those working from home and in remote locations, improving your environmental footprint can still be achieved. Using LPG, as opposed to oil, can reduce your carbon emission by around 20 per cent.
Plus, our home emissions from the gas can be offset using sustainable schemes such as tree planting initiatives to avoid further environmental impact.
Aside from energy, what we do in our jobs may have a deeper environmental impact than we think. If you work in an office, you may be surprised to find out that the average worker will go through 10,000 sheets of paper per year and throw away 500 disposable coffee cups. And when it comes to our lunch break, expect 20 to 30 per cent of your meal to end up in the bin.
Waste is a huge environmental problem in the workplace, but ultimately, it’s up to us to create the solutions. Fortunately, this couldn’t be simpler. Question whether you need to print out that email or document. Use a mug or reusable flask for your coffee and tea, and make sure you eat all of your lunch – or save the leftovers to enjoy when the afternoon slump kicks in!
Waste is much more than a space problem. The average landfill size is already 600 acres, but the emissions that these sites produce is the real issue. When this waste is broken down, the process releases methane, a gas closely linked to climate change. In fact, 14.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses were emitted by landfills in the UK in 2019. While the number is astronomical, we shouldn’t forget that we all contribute to this. Avoiding waste is key, especially in our own jobs.
Whether working remotely or making our home office more sustainable, it is clear that the environment is at the forefront of our personal and professional lives. It is our actions and choices that affect the environment, so will you be choosing a career that allows you to achieve a sustainable lifestyle?