How to create a more environmentally friendly working life

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Written by Amanda Murray on 20 July 2021 in Features
Features

Amanda Murray underlines the importance of an environmentally sustainable work life.

Sustainability has become an important part of all of our lives. Almost everyone is conscious of lowering their carbon footprint, whether that is at work or at home. From the transport we use to how we heat our homes, green lifestyles are the way forward. Now, a greener working life is setting itself up as the next step.

Over the last 12 months, the ability to work from home has helped to reduce transport emissions, opening itself up as one of the environmental benefits of remote working. It’s formed the springboard for further green initiatives in the workplace moving forward.

With this in mind, let's explore how you can build on your more eco-friendly work style.

Remaining at home

At the beginning of 2020, working from home was a novel concept for many. That soon changed by April 2020, with the Office for National Statistics reporting that 46.6% of employed people did some form of remote work. Of them, 86% were working from home due to the pandemic.

Helping to protect the environment should be at the top of our to-do list, whether at work or at home. 

Naturally, this shift to remote working caused transport emissions to fall. Commuting alone sends 18bn kg of CO2 into the atmosphere every year in the UK. This accounts for 25% of transport emissions as a whole.

Working from home is just one of the ways an employee can help reduce those harmful pollutants. After all, having a job that allows you to work from home can be a huge boost for your personal green goals, since you won’t be commuting to and from the office every day.

Prior to the pandemic, working from home was becoming an increasingly preferred option. Google searches for ‘work from home jobs’ have been rising steadily for years – between 2016 and 2019, the term shot up by 22%. Come 2020, the term had experienced a 73% growth over the previous five years.

Google search scores are a great way to see this in action – the term is scored on a scale of 0 to 100. In 2016, ‘work from home jobs’ scored 49, but by 2020, it was sitting at a healthy 85.

 

Google search scores for ‘work from home jobs’ by year

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

49

50

56

60

85

 

Sustainable homes

By staying at home to work, we would see our energy consumption go up as well, however. For example, a working schedule of 40 hours a week, 47 weeks per year would see a person spend 1,880 more hours at home each year.

That means a person will inevitably use more gas and electricity to work and keep their home warm, particularly in the winter. This in turn increases the average annual CO2 emissions of home, which would usually be around 3.2 tonnes.

There are ways to improve your energy usage at home, and workers have a much stronger control over this than they would at the office. For example, rural homeowners are likely to use oil as fuel, which is less sustainable than natural gas. By switching to off grid gas, rural home workers can lower their carbon emissions by as much as 20%.

Furthermore, there are carbon offsetting programmes available for people to invest in several different eco-schemes, including tree planting.

Working on waste

There’s more to greener working than just energy. For example, if you work in an office, you will go through 10,000 sheets of paper every year, on average. Add this to the 500 disposable coffee cups thrown away every year by the average worker and binning 20 to 30% of your lunch, and we have a recipe for preventable waste.

Waste has a massive impact on the environment, whether you’re working from the office or from home. Luckily, there are several simple solutions you can implement into your daily work life. Do you really need to print that email? Can you pick up a reusable coffee cup?

How about saving your leftovers for a late afternoon snack? Doing so will help reduce the damage waste inflicts upon the natural world – in 2019, UK landfills released 14.2m metric tons of greenhouse gasses. Everyone contributes to this massive figure, so by taking actions to improve our working habits, we can all see that number reduce.

Helping to protect the environment should be at the top of our to-do list, whether at work or at home. All our actions contribute towards the fight against climate change, so be sure to take a look at your working life to see where you can make sustainable adjustments.

 

About the author

Amanda Murray is Corporate Affairs and Innovation Manager at Flogas UK.

 

Sources

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/coronavirusandhomeworkingintheuk/april2020

https://pressat.co.uk/releases/revolutionising-the-commute-is-key-to-reducing-uk-carbon-emissions-new-research-from-mobilityways-reveals-da85f9d9f474054043ae488b43720af7/

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/05/millennials-employment-employers-values-ethics-jobs

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