After one-year mobile office (read: not working in the company due to pandemic implications), we wondered if this wouldn’t be a good moment to not just to think about greener and smarter offices but also about greener homes (aka home or mobile offices). As our office is empty apart from some colleagues not able to work at home, the individual housing gets more import. As a living room and a workspace. Here we are now 24/7 – working, living, sleeping, enjoying ourselves or struggling with the pandemic.
MAKE YOUR FOOTPRINT SMALLER BY LIVING RESPONSIBLY
First of all, you can learn about your ecological footprint with this beautiful online tool:
Ecological Footprint Calculator. And actually, it’s a really good moment to do so cause the most stayed at home and had no flights or massive amounts of commuting. So, you might be pleasantly surprised by your low emissions. To learn more, use the calculator twice: Once for pandemic and once for regular times. Then you will see the enormous impact of transportation on your personal carbon footprint.
But let’s stay in the moment. Given you can’t travel as you might wish, various activities can lead to smaller and bigger changes in your everyday lifestyle. We compiled a set of practical information for creating an eco-friendly home environment and adjusting your daily lifestyle to help you make an impact in our endeavor to keep the planet habitable.
A STARTERs GUIDE 2 SUSTAINABILITY
1. Reduce your energy consumption
Switch off the lights you don’t need and unplug any devices and chargers(!) you don’t use now. Even in standby mode, they consume energy! Switch off camera or incoming camera signal in team calls if appropriate. It minimizes zoom fatigue and reduces emissions.
Challenge yourself: Try to have lights on in just one room at any time.
2. (Re-)Prioritize what you buy
Pay attention to the materials for staple products. Bio-degradable, recyclable materials like wood, metal, carton and recycled paper should be selected. Articles composed of multiple materials can rarely be recycled. Consider eco-conscious brands – especially in the field of fashion, cosmetic or detergent.
Challenge yourself: Given you have enough clothes to keep you warm, buying something new is still tempting and fashionable. But do you really need it? Before you buy a new piece agree which piece of your wardrobe will be donated to make room. Make it harder by substituting sweatshirts with sweatshirts – stay in the same category, value quality over quantity.
3. Actively manage your heating
Lower your heating thermostat a little. Each 1-degree reduction can lead to an 8-10% saving on the energy bill and carbon emissions. Make sure your heaters are turned down at night, especially in your bedroom. Rely more on comfy blankets, shawls, socks etc., to keep you warm.
If you are in a warm climate, do the same with air condition. Increase temperature a little. Get dark curtains to block the sun. Go for ventilation in the cooler hours.
Double check your insulation. Even in a rented place you can make sure that heat doesn’t leave the house or gets in (depending on your residency) by resealing your windows or using door split covers. A simple candle will guide you the way to unintended ventilation slots.
4. Be aware of and minimize the waste you produce
Whenever possible, buy unpackaged goods, or goods in returnable / deposit packaging. Cut down on disposable cutlery, containers & cups.
Challenge yourself and set goals like: “this month I’m going to need just one small garbage bag for non-recyclable waste” make these goals more ambitious every time you achieve one.
RESHAPE SOME ESSENTIAL HABITS!
5. Save water
Use the Eco mode of your dishwasher & washing machine and make sure the water is not running while you don’t use it. Or recycle water from cooking to water your plants.
Gamify with your kids: Count how many seconds/minutes the water is running while you wash your hands, brush your teeth, or when you shower. Your goal is to lower that amount every time you do it without sacrificing cleanliness.
6. Try a plant-based diet
Implement meat-free recipes and meals at least 5 days per week to make a change and see the impact. If you eat meat or fish, make sure it’s organic.
Challenge yourself: Think about food miles as well and learn with your kids or peers more about seasonal vegetables. The variety is bigger and more sustainable than everyday avocado toast (given you are not living in Mexico).
7. Check your transportation habits
Applicable after the Pandemic but nether less important: Before commuting with your car, check if you could go by public transport or bike. Before flying, check if you could also go by train. If you need to fly during your vacations, reduce your flights by staying away for longer – fly away once for three weeks instead of 3 times for one week.
8. Maintain value
If any of your devices or appliances break, try to find a way to repair them yourself (https://www.ifixit.com) or get them repaired, instead of replacing them immediately. If you need to replace something, check what would be the most sustainable way of doing so (recycle broken devices & buy refurbished/remanufactured products instead of new ones, etc.)
9. Enter activism
There are so many agents out there, raising awareness, mentioning shortcomings and making a change. Do your research and find the perfect fit for you!
Some of our colleagues made these moves:
- Make www.ecosia.org your standard search engine. Ecosia is the first B Corp in Germany, and they use their revenues to plant trees all over the world.
- Donate to GermanZero! (GermanZero – Deutschland bis 2035 klimaneutral machen | GermanZero e.V.) Their goal is to deliver a 1.5°C legislative package, including a CO2 tax reform, and a comprehensive package of climate-protection measures, which are to be anchored in Germany’s Basic Law. Without this independent initiative it is highly likely that politics will not be able to implement the measures we need to solve the climate crisis!
- While you’re still in the process of changing your lifestyle to become carbon neutral, you can donate to offset your remaining Carbon Footprint through Climate action for all – Klima or Environmental Footprint Calculator (carbonclick.com).
10. Evaluate your efforts and start with one thing at the time
Do one thing after the other. Humans are having a hard time changing to much at once. Bear with you and go slowly but surely. And don’t forget to evaluate your efforts (at least: every year) to see and celebrate your progress.
If you haven’t noticed it so far, we have more insights from last “Green April” here. And please let us know what action you take to make your home (office) more sustainable.