If we can pick out one positive this past year has brought us, it is the ability to work from home. Not only does this help free up our time with no commute and a flexible schedule, but it also means fewer emissions from the daily commute. In the spirit of Spring and Earth Day coming up, we have compiled a list of four benefits that working from home can have on the environment.
First up on our list is people are using less paper since working from home. Meaning more documents are being digitized and sent through email, teams, or any other platform your company utilizes. This may seem like a small benefit of working from home, but we tend to not realize how much paper is actually being used in one year. One source notes that Americans use 85 million tons of paper each year, that is the equivalent of seven trees a year per person. This may seem impossible to fix but even saving one tree can help reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and in turn reduce greenhouse gases.
Working from home also helps to reduce power consumption. For companies that have more than half of their staff working remotely, they can see a lower electricity bill for their office. Although this reduction in offices can be seen under the conditions listed above, there has ultimately been an increase in power consumption in homes. But if people practice energy saving habits at home that can be counted as a small victory and a step in the right direction. Virtual Vocations lists some ways you can use power saving habits in your home such as:
- Use less hot water
- Unplugging appliances when not in use
- Changing over to LED lights when possible
The next benefit of working from home is improving the air quality. Shortly following the stay at home orders, New York showed a 45% decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels and a 20% reduction globally. This change is due to people staying home and not driving as much. Even with restrictions now lifting, the decrease in nitrogen dioxide started to slow but still remains below the expected values of any regular year. This change is due to people staying home and not driving as much.
The final benefit of working from home is the reduction in plastic use. With people staying home they are more inclined to make their coffee at home which helps to reduce the use of single use plastic coffee cups and lids. People are also cooking at home more, so this reduces the plastic containers used when ordering take out. Lastly, this helps to reduce the use of single use water bottles and cups that would be used around the office water cooler. Together 50% of all plastics produced are used for single use purposes and then end up somewhere in the ocean or landfill.
Overall, with the year we’ve had it is nice to see at least one positive come from it. And better yet Spring is here, so now we can get back outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Take the time to relax, soak up some sun, and maybe even have a socially distanced picnic in the warm and fresh air.