Reducing your carbon footprint in the home office

While the global response to the pandemic may have resulted in a temporary win for the environment, that doesn’t mean we should let our guards down while working from home.  

Tami Iseli

By Tami Iseli, 3 minute read

Since late March, when the industrial world basically came to a grinding halt, there have been many stories emerging of environmental recovery โ€“ dramatic improvements in air and water quality, and wildlife basking in deserted urban landscapes. By early April, global carbon emissions were down by a striking 17 percent. With most white collar workers trading the daily trek into the office for the bedroom-to-study commute, one of the sharpest areas of decline in carbon emissions (43%) came in the form of reduced road traffic.

Yet, as uplifting as all of this sounds, scientists believe the turnaround is likely to be short-lived. Some even suggest that the pandemic may actually end causing greater harm to the environment ๐Ÿ˜ž In part, this is due to major regulatory rollbacks to help manufacturing operations make up for lost time. But thereโ€™s also a myriad of micro-contributions that can all add up to a level of collective significance โ€“ like the impact of heating many individual homes rather than one office. On the flipside, lots of small initiatives, working together, can have a considerable positive impact.

This is where we all have the power to make a difference.

Just over a year ago, Luminary announced that it had offset its carbon footprint dating back to July 2017, with plans to remain carbon neutral into the future. As well as investing in a large-scale tree planting program, we also took on a range of initiatives within the office to reduce our carbon footprint. With a large proportion of our team now working remotely, we wanted to empower our team members to extend this philosophy into their remote work environments.

What we came up with are some simple guiding principles that we can all endeavour to implement in our home offices:  

  1. Minimise energy use through heating and cooling โ€“ Wear warmer clothes, block draughts, and close doors to create smaller spaces to heat or cool.
  2. Reduce paper use โ€“ Avoid printing where you can; print double-sided if you have to.
  3. Say โ€˜noโ€™ to single use plastic โ€“ Weโ€™re all for supporting the local coffee shop (especially in the midst of the current downturn) but if you can, take a reusable cup rather than using a disposable one.
  4. Recycle โ€“ It goes without saying, but dispose of recyclable materials in the appropriate bins. Soft plastics, like bread bags and wrappers, can be collected and taken to major supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths for recycling. If you have a garden, compost your food scraps and coffee grounds (coffee makes a great nitrogen-rich soil enhancer).
  5. Use devices wisely โ€“ Unplug mobile phone and laptop chargers when not in use, and turn off speakers, lights, heaters and other electrical equipment. Enable sleep settings on computers and monitors.
  6. Take alternative transport โ€“ Commute by bike or foot where possible. If you have to drive, try to travel at off-peak times.
  7. Choose local โ€“ Support local businesses and suppliers โ€“ itโ€™s good for the community and it saves on transport miles.
  8. Optimise file sizes โ€“ Compress PDFs and reduce image sizes for greater performance and lesser impact.
  9. Switch to sustainable providers โ€“ Seek out suppliers that support the environment, from fair trade coffee brands, to forest friendly toilet paper suppliers, and banks that invest in sustainability.
  10. Go carbon neutral as a household โ€“ You can calculate your carbon footprint here https://carbonneutral.com.au/carbon-calculator/ and offset it in a range of ways, including sponsoring the planting of trees through www.trees.org

Aside from being good for nature, these small actions all have the power to make us feel that little bit of warm inner glow you get from doing something constructive โ€“ and who couldnโ€™t do with a bit more of that right now! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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