Yes, you still have a carbon footprint when you work from home

COVID-19 has radically altered what work looks like and has resulted in many people being forced to work from home. Many of these employees are also contemplating the fact that remote work may become the new norm for the foreseeable future. For the most part, the traditional work environment of large offices is not a very eco-friendly or enjoyable way to conduct work. It often requires long commutes, fast food lunches, and inefficient use of office resources. With those challenges in mind, many people have viewed the shift to working from home as a massive improvement on the environmental impact that they have as employees. This is a complicated issue, and it’s hard to choose one side as better than the other. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to each system, and there are a lot of ways that employees can reduce their carbon footprint even when they’re working from home! EcoCart is here to help remote employees everywhere cut down on their carbon footprint while they work from home and do good for the planet!


Why are office jobs so bad for the environment?

Traditional office based jobs are notoriously not environmentally friendly. They require employees to drive or utilize public transportation to get to their place of work and then return home at the end of the day. These commutes often created traffic jams and unnecessarily lengthen the amount of time people need to spend driving everyday, all while releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Large offices also consume massive amounts of energy in order to provide heating and cooling, run hundreds of computers and other office equipment, and enable companies to do their work. This results in lots of energy being consumed every day as a result of office based working arrangements.


How is working from home better?

Comparatively, working from home has a number of obvious advantages that allow it to have a smaller carbon footprint. When you no longer have to report to an office everyday, millions of employees no longer have to worry about a daily commute. This saves huge amounts of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere and also reduces the overall amount of traffic meaning people spend less time driving and thus less time adding to their carbon footprint. Another benefit  of working from home is that you have much more control over that carbon footprint than you do as one person in a large office. When you are in your own home or apartment, you get to determine what stays running and consumes energy, and what you turn off when not using it.


There’s still room to improve!

While the restrictions that the pandemic has necessitated have reduced carbon emissions in some dramatic ways, working from home still has a carbon footprint that can be improved. Here are a few areas you might not have thought about and some ways to improve.

One of the biggest changes in energy use when you work from home is that now your lights, heating and devices are running all day, instead of just in the morning and at night when you’re at home. Instead of one large office building consuming energy, there are now hundreds of homes and apartments using much more energy than they normally would. This adds up to a significant increase in energy being used, but you can choose to put on a sweater or only heat certain parts of your house in the winter;  in the summer, you can opt to use fans, open or close windows, or open and close blinds and curtains in order to manage the temperature in your home.

Most offices also allow all their computers and equipment like printers and other office tools, to run all the time in order to prevent employees from wasting time waiting for equipment to turn on. When you work from a home office, you can turn your devices off and unplug them when not in use. Working from home also helps you reduce food waste and the excess packaging and cost that comes with eating out. It’s much easier to maintain a routine of cooking your own meals or responsibly using takeout options.


Cut down on video streaming while working from home

One of the most significant tech related costs of working from home is the amount of video calls and streaming that are required to make up for meetings and face to face conversations. According to some estimates, streaming HD video for 8 to 9 hours a day can create almost as much carbon dioxide as burning a gallon of gasoline! Employees who rely on these video based tools to get their work done or are now consuming more social media and streaming services while enjoying the more relaxed environment of working from home can still take steps to minimize their online carbon footprint. Simple steps like turning off your camera when you don’t need to use it in video calls, or turning down the quality of video you stream can cut your streaming related energy usage by up to 50%. While these may be small steps that feel insignificant on their own, when more employees and companies begin to practice them they can have incredible impacts on the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the air everyday.


EcoCart can help reduce your carbon footprint!

EcoCart is also a great tool for offsetting your carbon footprint while you work from home. When you shop online, you can install the EcoCart Chrome extension and use it every time you check out on a supported online store in order to offset your carbon footprint for that order. Everyone is ordering more online than ever before and EcoCart is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint in that area.

It’s unrealistic to expect that office life will never return. Offices are more efficient for many companies and they allow many employees to enjoy much better communication and teamwork. However, we all have the responsibility to minimize our carbon footprint wherever possible. By taking small steps in our individual lives and encouraging those we work with to also implement similar steps, we can start to have a big impact on our environment. Real changes happen when millions of people around the world start to implement small changes over time in both our personal and professional lives.