Here are some easy tips you can use to keep sustainable when working from home.
Even if an electronic device is not actively being used, if it is left plugged in, then the appliance continues to use energy. This draws energy from the grid, which puts unnecessary strain on the environment.
“A simple way to avoid the unnecessary strain on the environment is to unplug all electronics which you aren’t actively using, including chargers, printers and even your television,” Thomas Goodman advises. “It is estimated that the average home has 40 idle products which are constantly plugged in, making up as much as 10% of household energy use. By unplugging these appliances, not only can you decrease your household energy use by that 10%, but you could save up to £30 a year in electricity bills.”
Adjust the heating
As summer is ending, many of us may find ourselves starting to reach for the heating. In lockdown, 56% of home workers said they heated their homes for longer during the day, with home energy use increasing up to a third during the middle of the day. “By being more mindful of the temperature we set our thermostats, we can save both energy and money on our bills,” Goodman explains. “In fact, it is estimated that lowering your thermostat by just 1 degree can reduce your energy bill by up to £80, as well as reducing your overall energy consumption by 13%.”
To keep your home feeling warm after turning the temperature down, make sure your home is properly insulated. If you can’t completely insulate your home, then a short-term solution is to cover up any areas which allow draughts to come in.
Use sustainable work materials
Firstly, try and avoid buying office supplies and stationery when you still have perfectly usable materials to use up. By purchasing goods that aren’t necessary, even you are purchasing them to replace your less sustainable materials, you are unnecessarily causing more waste. “When opting for sustainable work materials, such as pens and paper, look for goods which are used from recycled materials and products that can then be easily recycled after use,” Goodman explains. “Many office supplies contain plastic, which takes years and years to biodegrade. Opt for pens which are refillable, or even better, look for specialist bamboo pens which can be recycled.”
If home working becomes a permanent routine, and you are considering renovating a room to be your home office, then try and find second-hand furniture. “Shopping vintage can not only create a nice look, but many vintage items are really high quality and will last longer than a cheaper alternative. Second-hand furniture also tends to be cheaper than buying new.”
Reduce home waste
It is estimated that UK households waste over 4.5 million tonnes of food every year, and with working from home, more of us are eating every meal at home than we ever have before. While this might be good for our purse strings, as we are less likely to head out for lunch when we can make our own lunch at home, this can have a negative effect on our food and packaging waste.
Take note of your council’s recycling. Many councils offer kerbside recycling, so ensure you dispose of your waste correctly to avoid goods finding their way into landfills. Also, try and use up all foods that may otherwise be thrown away, such as eating dinner leftovers at lunchtime or planning meals in advance to avoid making food that will just go to waste.
Think back to your office. The lights always seemed to stay on, which is an unnecessary use of energy, in fact, it is estimated that 15% of office building’s energy comes just from lighting the office space, yet office workers don’t tend to have a say on whether the lights are left on. Working from home is great, as you are in control of the environment in which you work, however it is still important to be mindful of your habits.
“Replace inefficient lighting with energy-saving or LED bulbs to reduce your energy use,” Goodman advises. “Or make the most of natural light and try and find an area to work which allows for natural light. Not only does this eliminate the need for turning lights on unnecessarily, but studies have shown that natural light can release endorphins and make you happier and healthier, as well as boosting productivity levels.”