Modern living room with home office area

10 great sustainable practices if you work from home

This has been written by Raakhee Stratton, a UK based eco-blogger and author of Easy Peasy Greeny. Currently studying towards a BSc Environmental Science and passionate about working towards sustainable living by learning and sharing ideas.

In the last few years, we have seen a sharp rise in remote working. Some companies, although not all, have adopted and offered more flexible working options for their staff. Working from home offers several benefits like greater flexibility and reducing the time you spend commuting, not to mention the cost of commuting!

Before I started my own business, almost 8 years ago, I commuted from Ashford, Kent to London. The commute was about an hour and 20 minutes each way, that was a lot of time just sitting on the train. As much as I loved my job, I’m glad I don’t have to do that commute anymore.

Remote working is also a great opportunity to minimise your carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.

But how does with work when it comes to energy consumption? Surely if you use energy at home, it will have an impact on your energy bill? Yes, it will. But if you incorporate some of these eco-friendly and sustainable tips into your everyday routine, you make turn your home office space into a great place for sustainability.

I’ve been working from home for years and, as an eco-blogger, I’ve managed to change some of the habits I picked up from before I became self-employed.

Don’t know where to start? There’s no gatekeeping here, below are some the tips and hack I’ve implemented and hopefully helps other remote workers:

Eco-tips if you work from home

1. Adjust your thermostat

When you’re at home, especially during the colder months, it’s important to stay warm but need to be mindful of our energy use too. If you get a little chilly, instead of increasing the temperature, put on a jumper and layer up. A smart thermostat can be useful to help reduce your carbon emissions. I suffer terribly from cold feet, so I’ve got a great little foot warmer with a USB point which plugs into my laptop. I have toasty feet without using anymore more energy.

2. Natural lighting

Rather than having to turn the light on, open your curtains and position yourself to take advantage of as much natural light as possible. If you do need to turn the light on, use LED light bulbs, which are energy efficient and use less energy.

3. Paper waste

If you need to write/take notes, use scraps of paper you already have at home. It could be the back of envelopes or letters you no longer need.

4. Fountain pens

This is one that doesn’t get mentioned often enough so bear with me. When it comes to traditional pens, they end up in the bin when they no longer work. Because they are made from different materials, they are often problematic to recycle. I’ve switched to a fountain pen and refill the empty cartridge with writing ink using a syringe. I bought a bottle of ink a while back – which came in a glass bottle – and there’s still plenty of ink left. Look at your office supplies, could you make a sustainable saving somewhere?

Fountain pen and notebook on a dark brown desk

5. Thermos mug

I am a huge tea drinker and I’m forever making cups of tea during the day. But I have a habit of getting so engrossed in my work that I end up with half a mug of cold tea. Yuk! Since I was given a thermos mug, this hasn’t been a problem. If you’ve got a travel mug, this will work just as well. This is a great way to keep your drink hot for longer which means you don’t have to use more energy to make a new drink because the last one went cold.

6. Printing

Before you need to print something, think about whether it really needs to be printed? If you need to make notes on a document you’ve been sent, you could use apps like Goodnotes. I use this app a lot for when I need to make notes on a document I’ve been sent ahead of a meeting. If you do need to print, use both sides of the paper.

7. Bring the outside inside

Many people don’t realise that plants can have a positive impact on our own mental health. Not only do plants improve indoor air quality, last year, University of Reading published a post about a recent study suggesting plants reduce stress and lower blood pressure too. I’m sure we can all do with a bit of that!

Pretty african american woman using laptop and holding remote controller while lying on sofa under air conditioner

8. Take a break

As business owners, we are terrible at taking a break. Someone once said to me ‘when you forget to take a break, is when you need it the most’. Make sure you schedule a lunch break and go outside for a walk. Even if it’s just 10-minutes. Fill your lungs with air.

9. Power down electronics

When you’re not using your electronic devices, it’s important to turn them off rather than leaving them on standby mode. I’m guilty of this too. I’m trying to get better.

10. Video calls

If you’re scheduled to be on a video conference call for an hour, turning off your video function but keeping the audio on can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 96% for that call. This is a judgement call, please don’t annoy your boss and/or colleagues!

Start small

It’s not realistic to implement all these tips overnight. Pick a few and start from there. Something I always say is ‘start small, do what you can, build from there’. As you adopt these sustainable choices in practise without even thinking about it, add more, they’ll grow to become positive habits.

Don’t ever think these small steps don’t make a difference, they do. They also help you to work towards a more sustainable future. If you slip, it’s OK, try again tomorrow, there’s no such thing as perfect.

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