4 Easy Ways To Nurture the Environment While Working From Home

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One of the biggest life changes due to the pandemic has been the emergence of en masse work from home for many businesses. This new way of working has been great in many ways: People were able to customize their office experience, to work in a more comfortable fashion, and to find more freedom in their workday. There are also some major societal developments from this phenomenon — career paths that were once unavailable for disabled or chronically ill people have become accessible, employees have felt empowered to ask for more rights and better treatment, and the lack of a commute means more time added to our personal lives as well as even having a positive impact on the environment, like a reduction in carbon emissions due to the reduced traffic.

Now that we have more control over our work environment in our home office setups, there are other steps we can take to better care for Mother Earth. Here are some eco-friendly swaps that you can easily make while working from home:

1Make Coffee at Home

When working in an office, many of us would weave into our daily routine buying a morning or afternoon cup of coffee to help us get through our days. And what does that drink usually arrive in? A disposable cup. Whether it’s paper or plastic, the waste from that daily cup (or let’s face it, cups) of coffee builds, adding up to potentially hundreds of disposable cups used per year for just one person. Rather than contributing to our country’s garbage crisis or plastic waste problem, working from home has made it easier than ever to take this waste out of the equation. Using a traditional coffee maker, or one of the cold brew coffee makers that are becoming popular, will allow you to get your caffeine fix while nixing the rest. Just keep in mind that I’m not talking about Keurigs, which have created their own plastic waste problem, so much so that the creator even regrets his invention.

2Make Lunch at Home

Similar to the benefits of making your own cup of coffee at home, making your own lunch also gets rid of a significant source of plastic and other kinds of waste. The waste from the containers that our to-go lunches come in alone can create a problematic amount of trash, especially as they add up over the five day work week. In addition, making your own lunch also puts you in charge of buying the ingredients, which allows you to purchase from companies that engage in eco-friendly policies. The more we reward these eco-conscious companies with our business, the more other companies will adopt these practices. Plus, you may discover you’re a better cook than you thought.

3Turn Off Your A/C

You may be familiar with the joke that summer turns into “women’s winter” when it comes to working in an office. This refers to the fact that once the hot weather rolls in, it’s usually accompanied by a big ol’ crank on the company’s A/C unit. I know I’ve excitedly thrown on an outfit appropriate for a summer day only to find myself working in a frozen tundra of an office for the next eight hours way too many times. Now that we are able to work from home, we are also able to customize our atmosphere. When the weather heats up, instead of turning to your old, trusty A/C unit to cool your place down, consider an alternative.

Air conditioning has notoriously been bad for the environment, going back decades when it was discovered that the freon from the units was depleting the ozone layer, and was acting as a global warming gas. In addition, numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration demonstrate that air-conditioning accounts for nearly a fifth of annual U.S. residential electricity use. This is more energy for cooling per capita as well as overall than in any other country. A/C units use a large amount of energy, which means that electricity production is increased. When electricity production is increased, more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, and when it reaches excessive levels, the greenhouse gas can trap heat near the Earth's surface, contributing to global warming. So, the next time you find yourself sweating during the workday, instead of turning on your A/C, open a window and let in some fresh air or switch to a box fan for some eco-friendly cooling.

4Start Composting

Many offices don’t have the necessities around to allow for composting, which is understandable. But now that you are working from home, this is a great time to get started with composting on your own. Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, which can include food scraps, leaves, paper — pretty much anything that was once living. Through the composting process, this organic matter is turned into a hearty fertilizer that can benefit both soil and plants. Anything that grows will eventually decompose, but composting speeds up this process by creating an ideal environment for decomposing organisms (like worms), fungi, and bacteria to get to work. The end result is the compost. 

Composting enriches soil and helps encourage the healthy growth of plants, while also reducing waste, which allows us to be less dependent on landfills. Additionally, composting has been shown to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. It also recycles essential nutrients back into the soil to fuel future plant life, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers in the process. Plants that are grown in compost enriched soils are typically more resilient when it comes to pests, fungi, and plant diseases. The healthy bacteria and organisms that are found in compost help to fight off both harmful diseases and pests for the plants. This reduces the need for pesticides, which can be damaging to the environment.

Composting at home will require some supplies. You can follow a guide like the one here to help you get started.

Tags: Environment, Sustainability, Working From Home

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Written By

Allie Nelson

Allie is a TV producer and writer with credits on Netflix, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, TBS, E!, & HGTV. See Full Bio

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