Eco-conscious home working: Five ways you can cut your carbon footprint while working from home

Looking for small ways to lead a more sustainable life while working remotely? James Partridge from Greenshop shares five tips for reducing your carbon footprint while working from home.

While lockdown restrictions have come to an end, many of us are still working remotely. In fact, recent research has found that over a third of Brits are working from home at least once a week. Not only does this give you more time to spend with the family, but it can be good news for the planet too. Home-working can reduce an individuals personal emissions by up to a shocking 80%.

However, working remotely doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have a smaller carbon footprint. Personal habits can be a major factor in determining how eco-friendly working remotely is. If you want to make sure that you’re working from home sustainably, use these five tips to cut your carbon footprint. 

1) Decorate your office sustainably

Whether you’re looking to add a new office to your home, or you just want to freshen up the one you have, you’ll no doubt be enjoying planning exactly how you’ll decorate the space. But when you do so, try to consider how you can do it in a sustainable way. 

The good news is that there are a number of easy and eco-friendly swaps to make when making over your office. For example, try to choose an eco-friendly paint if you’re looking to update the colour of your workspace. Look out for paints which use natural ingredients, such as vegetable oil, and opt for solvent-free paint if you can. 

You can also be eco-friendly when picking out new furniture for your office too. Opt for pieces made from natural and renewable materials, such as bamboo, wood, and wool. And consider buying second hand pieces to cut down on the amount of good quality furniture sent to landfill. Alternatively, if you’re considering getting rid of a piece of furniture you’ve fallen out of love with, why not try upcycling it? A fresh lick of paint or a fun new design may completely change the way you feel about it. 

2) Cut down on emails 

One of the good things about working from home is that it cuts down on the amount of paper that needs to be printed, which is great for the planet. However, it has lead to an increase in the amount of emails sent, which is bad news for your carbon footprint. In fact, the electricity used to send one email creates 4g of CO2 emissions, while an email with an attachment produces an average of 50g

While this may not sound like a lot, it adds up. According to a study by Ovo, over 64 million unnecessary emails are sent by Brits everyday. The company’s research finds that if the average Brit sent one less email a day, 16,433 tonnes of carbon could be saved per year. 

Of course, emails are important in the workplace and shouldn’t be cut out altogether. But before sending one, take a minute to decide whether it’s necessary. If it’s just a small thank you email with a couple of sentences or less, press discard to reduce your carbon footprint. 

3) Use eco-friendly stationery

While you’ll no doubt be cutting down on the amount of printing you do, you still may be using paper in the form of stationery, whether it’s to make hand-written notes or to keep track of your schedule in your diary. If you enjoy using a physical diary, or you just prefer to make notes the old-fashioned way, try to opt for eco-friendly stationery when you can. 

If you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your stationery products, keep an eye out for Fair Trade versions of the pieces you need. One of the key principles of Fair Trade products is to respect the environment, so you can rest assured that any Fair Trade stationery you buy is sustainable. 

For notebooks and diaries, consider choosing ones which use vegetable-based ink as this is made from renewable and natural resources. Plus, vegetable ink sometimes comes as a by-product from existing vegetables, so there’s not always a need to even grow new plants. And when you’ve completed your notebook or diary, always remember to recycle the pages so they don’t end up in landfill. 

4) Reduce the carbon footprint of your lunch break 

Working remotely is certainly great for your wallet, as you’re much less likely to pop into your local shop for a sandwich at lunch. But as well as saving money, you can make your lunch break more eco-friendly when working from home too. You’ll likely have more kitchen equipment at home than you would in the office, so you can spend time making something really delicious and good for both your body and the planet. 

To reduce the carbon footprint of your lunch, consider making it vegetarian or vegan. Research has found that a veggie or vegan diet can produce a staggering 49.6% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s definitely worth cutting out meat at lunch and replacing it with a plant-based alternative, even if it’s just a couple of times a week. 

And if you’re looking to save time whilst leading a more sustainable life, consider meal prepping your lunches for the week. As well as giving you a longer lunch break, meal prepping can help you cut down on food waste as you’ll know all the ingredients you need beforehand and won’t end up buying too much. 

5) Embrace natural light 

Cut down on the energy you use by filling your home office with natural light. Letting more natural light into your workspace means you won’t have to rely on artificial light as much, and the sunlight can even warm the room up so you can reduce the temperature on your thermostat too.

Not only is this good for the planet and your wallet, but it may even be beneficial for your wellbeing. Exposure to natural light can improve your sleeping pattern and boost your mood, amongst other things.

To make the most of the natural light in your office, position your desk as close to the window as possible to ensure you get plenty of light. If you’re working in a room which doesn’t get much light but you have a bedroom that’s brighter, you may even want to consider switching the two. As well as getting a lighter place to work, you’ll also end up with a darker bedroom which can help you get a good night’s sleep.

And if your office is a dark colour, consider painting it a light, neutral shade. These hues tend to reflect natural light the best, whereas darker colours will absorb the light and leave the room shadier. 

Reduce your carbon footprint while working at home

Working remotely can already be good for the environment. But if you use these five tips, you should be able to reduce your carbon footprint even more while working from home.  

Photo by Farrel Nobel