Alex's Tips On Sustainability While Working From Home
Practicing sustainability is my biggest passion. Over the last two years, I set a monthly goal to add one new sustainable habit into my life. Sometimes they’re small, like purchasing beeswax paper. There are other months when it was a bigger change, like starting to compost or going paper towel-free. Practicing sustainability can seem daunting, but there are many ways to make small, impactful changes – especially while working from home!
- Unplug or turn off your devices when not using – This is an area where I could improve! I often leave my computer on until the next morning and oftentimes will sit down quickly to check my email. Turning your devices off at the end of the day will help save electricity and will help to create some work-life boundaries that we are all lacking in our new normal.
- Avoid using the printer – Now that there’s no need to bring physical materials to a meeting, experiment with using a PDF version, and virtually annotating to take notes.
- Recycle any paper you do use – Many towns have a town shredding event where you can drop off your paper and might have a cardboard drop-off for all the extra Amazon deliveries you’ve been receiving.
- Adjust the thermostat – Turning the thermostat down is a quick and easy way to lower your carbon footprint. Open your blinds/curtains all the way to let your house naturally heat up. I would be lying if I said I don’t sit at my desk with a blanket on my lap!
- Join a “Buy Nothing” Facebook Group – A “Buy Nothing” group is a community page where you can connect community members and work together to keep things out of landfills. You can get rid of anything in a Buy-Nothing group – clothes, notebooks, Halloween costumes, I’ve even seen people post that they made too much soup and give it away to someone who will enjoy it! I’ve gotten a coffee grinder, Nutribullet, tea infuser, and even some plants! Visit https://buynothingproject.org/ for more information and search Facebook for “buy nothing + your town name.”
- Avoid single use-plastic – Single-use plastics are things like disposable water bottles, straws, or even plastic bags. Through using a refillable water bottle, metal straws, and tote bags at the grocery store, you’ll cut down on your plastic use quickly!
- Opt for package-free shopping – While shopping, see if you can purchase items that aren’t covered in plastic. This could mean not picking up a plastic bag to bag up your bananas – bananas have built-in protection! This also means choosing products that an item like a sponge that is attached to just a piece of cardboard and not covered in plastic. The sponge is going to get dirty when you bring it home anyway.
- Take-Out containers – I know I order more delivery now that I am working from home! I try to purchase from places that I know have compostable options, but if that isn’t an option for you, be sure to wash and reuse the plastic container you are given with your takeout order.
- Shop local – Shopping local is one of the most important ways you can stay sustainable. Support your local businesses, find fruit and vegetables that are currently in season (this is a great resource: https://cuesa.org/eat-seasonally/charts/vegetables), join a CSA, or shop at a farmer’s market. Supporting local lowers plastic waste and the carbon footprint associated with shipping food and goods across the world.
- Congratulate yourself! If you work from home and have for over the last year, you have made a huge impact on cutting down your carbon emissions. Fewer people commuting means lower greenhouse gas emissions, less use of fossil fuels, and reduced air pollution!
As I mentioned, it may seem daunting how to be more sustainable. Choose one of these tips per month. It takes 21 days to build a habit so try taking one of these tips and practice for a month; before long it will become second nature!
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