Caring for the planet doesn’t need to be hard work. An eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle shouldn’t stop at your doorstep, as cultivating good habits at work makes a world of difference.
No matter whether you’re starting a new job or have been in your current role for a while, it’s always a good time to introduce new habits that can help the environment. According to official figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aussies spend an average of 40 hours at work a week. That covers at least half your week, including transportation to and from your workplace. So, switching to a low carbon emission lifestyle entails changing some routines when you’re at the office.
Here are 11 ways you can live a sustainable lifestyle at work.
1. Go digital
The paper industry is currently the fifth consumer of energy globally, and going paperless in any way helps lighten this massive carbon footprint. Opting to go primarily digital in reports or communications wherever possible is an important step in switching to zero waste.
2. Bring a tumbler
Single-use plastic cups are a bane to the environment, as most iterations are not even recyclable. This is due to the waterproof lining that is sprayed on the inner part. Plastic bottles are even worse, as they end up in streams and in the ocean. Disposable paper cups, on the other hand, are often inconveniently made of paper. The best option is to bring your own tumbler or reusable cup that can help reduce the amount of waste and make your workplace an eco-friendly place.
3. Have a green lunch
Healthy and eco-friendly lunches don’t have to be boring or exhausting. Mother Nature News highlights some tips you can follow for a green lunch, with one being literally surrounding yourself with green space. Leaving your desk and eating at a proper table outside of the office not only helps you make better food choices but is also good for your health. Pain-Free Working explains that eating lunch at your desk can have negative effects on your body like elevated stress and increased risk of heart disease. By taking your reusable container to the nearby park or bench under a tree, you're taking care of yourself and building a sustainable lunch habit.
4. Unplug chargers
Continuously running chargers are a huge waste of energy. While many of the smartphone and gadget manufacturers today include batteries that automatically stop charging when full, chargers can continue drawing from the system. Despite the very small amount of energy it consumes, the millions of chargers being left plugged daily add up to a lot of waste.
5. Get desk plants
Plants at the office not only help reduce carbon dioxide in your office, but also aid in boosting productivity, creativity, and lowering stress levels. In fact, a long term study from NASA found that indoor plants can soak up 87% of toxic chemicals in the room in just 24 hours. Succulents are a great choice if you don’t have a green thumb, as they are great at absorbing harmful chemicals while being low-maintenance. The snake plant is also a great choice since it ranks high in the said study, and it looks beautiful on any desk.
6. Go for a laptop
Given the choice, changing from a desktop to a laptop should be a priority. Laptops consume 80% less energy than bulkier desktop computers. And manufacturers of laptops are constantly finding ways to improve energy efficiency, as it helps in battery longevity and portability. Today, a performance laptop can consume energy limited to 90Wh because of its smaller PSU compared to PCs that can rack up to 400Wh at full load.
7. Let your hands drip-dry
The age-old debate between the environmental impact of using a hand dryer or paper towels has long been settled. Studies show that paper towels are the most wasteful option for drying your hands in the bathroom. But you can go a step further. Simply letting your hands drip before using the dryer can help cut the carbon footprint even more. So, next time you reach for the dryer, just wait a full minute or two.
8. Drive a hybrid
Your ride to work constitutes most of your carbon emission throughout the day. If you’re anxious about buying a fully electric car, opting for a hybrid can be a more affordable and eco-friendly option. Hybrid cars, while also running on fuel, utilise less than half of what average cars consume.
9. Work from home
Whenever permitted, working from home is one of the best things you can do to reduce your contribution to carbon emissions. The act of not commuting to work alone alleviates the damage transportation causes to the environment. This is especially true today that commute hours are increasing.
10. Take public transportation
If working from home or an electric/hybrid car isn’t an option, do the next big thing – take public transport to work. Whether it’s a bus, train, tram or ferry, it’s always the greener option to leave the car at home. Plus, without having the distraction of driving, you can sit back with your headphones in and enjoy some quiet down on the way to work listening to a new album by your favourite artist or an interesting podcast.
11. Advocate greener policies
While your efforts to lower your carbon footprint can go a long way, advocating for greener policies at work can make an exponential difference on a larger scale. For instance, simply suggesting that you use direct flights when going on business trips can help cut down emissions. You can also introduce Meatless Mondays or Strawless Tuesdays to help raise awareness in your workplace and take a step towards cultivating a green office.
Article contributed by Lauren Wilson