How working remotely lowers your environmental footprint
Earth Day 2020
2020 is shaping up to be a year for the history books, and after only a few months. The current narrative is engulfed by the ramifications of the novel coronavirus. Peoples’ lives have been upended in every corner of the world. Millions of jobs were lost overnight, entire industries have been forced to shut down indefinitely, and millions of medical professionals have put themselves at risk to help those in need. While messages of fear and uncertainty continue to occupy the media, there is a silver lining: the rapid improvement in the health of our planet from us working remotely.
Who would have thought that on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the waters of Venice would be clear, oil would have momentarily become worthless, and the people of India would be able to see the peaks of the Himalayas for the first time in decades?
The social fabric on which we used to rely has, at least partially, unravelled. At the same time, working remotely has never been more widespread, and we’re healing our planet in the process.
Changes to the way we eat
There are 3 major contributors to our impact on the planet: food, water, and energy. None of them operate independently from one another. They are all critical components of the massive, complex system that we call home: our planet, Earth.
Our global food system is one of the heaviest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It has a tremendous impact on the environment, yet it is only beginning to emerge in the global discussion on sustainability. Estimates of the food system’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions range anywhere from 20% to 37%. We lose and/or waste a staggering third of all the food we produce. But cooking at home can help, and it is a trend we have seen skyrocketing as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns.
This is not to say that we should stop eating out at restaurants. We love to support the local culinary establishments. After all, it is one of, if not, the main reason many of us (used to) travel. But they need not be mutually exclusive. Cooking at home can affect our decisions around when, where, and why we eat out. In many ways, cooking at home allows us to appreciate just how much love and work goes into the food we eat out.
There are so many benefits to cooking your own food at home. Not only is it less expensive, it is often healthier, it creates less waste and more leftovers. Besides, you are probably a better chef than you imagine. Start with the basics and experiment. It’s one of those skills that you never forget and will always be useful.
Changing the way we eat is critical to a healthier planet in the future. As we look to one another for connection in the wake of the coronavirus, cooking for friends and family is one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways to come together and share, both a meal, and time together. We can change the landscape for the future of food, and in the process, the health of our planet. So keep up your home-cooking habit!
A Quickly-Changing Office Landscape
All of a sudden people were told to start working remotely. A policy that was the stuff of legends to many office workers only months ago has since become mandatory. It is quickly becoming the norm. Remote work was already on the rise before the coronavirus outbreak. The recent lockdown measures have since accelerated this trend and many of the changes are expected to be permanent.
Companies that are quick to adapt to this new reality are likely to find improvements to both their bottom line and employee productivity. At the same time, it is one of the cheapest ways for a company to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s a rare win-win-win situation, for employers, employees, and the environment.
Xerox has been employing remote workers for 30 years. They are a prime example of the environmental benefits that can be reaped from remote teams. More than 8,600 of their employees work remotely. In 2016 they reduced vehicle miles driven by an estimated 99 million, reduced gasoline consumption by 4.9 million gallons, and avoided more than 43,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
All these changes benefit the employees as well, by allowing them to save more money, and by providing a better work-life balance. In fact, a Global Analytics survey suggests that 24% of employees say they would take up to a 10% pay cut to benefit the environment.
Our buildings use a tremendous amount of energy to keep us comfortable while we toil away. Heating, cooling, and lighting need vast amounts of power. Add to that the carbon cost of putting a building together and you have a recipe for a lot of environmental stress. In 2017 the UN estimated that our buildings contributed to over 36% of our energy consumption. Companies have found many ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their office spaces. From improvements to how we build, to how we use energy, our office buildings continue to improve. But, perhaps the simplest way is to simply get rid of the office as we know it. Besides, ‘keeping the lights on’ won’t be so much of a worry.
Changes to How We Use Land
Whether you attribute the carbon footprint of a commute to the commuter or the company is up for debate. One thing is clear: less commuting is better for everyone. Commuters spend less time in traffic. They can spend more time with their friends and family. Their mental health improves. Cities experience less congestion, and thus pollution decreases. We have seen the drastic impact that traffic has on our cities in recent months. Cleaner air enables us to lead healthier, happier lives. It also reduces the burden on our health systems. Traffic accidents drop and our roadways need less maintenance. The list goes on.
Major cities around the world are becoming prohibitively expensive for many people. Naturally, people are finding ways to move to lower-cost places nearby. Working remotely is, of course, one of the best ways to change where you live, while keeping your job. It is one of the reasons it has become so popular. But there is another trend on the rise as well: the super-commuter. Defined as someone who travels more than 180 miles to get to work, super-commuting too, could see a rise in adoption once the ramifications of the coronavirus have normalized.
Face-to-face meetings are still important and many people swear by them. Will the remote workers of the future have to ‘super-commute’ for that especially important meeting? Will they factor these decisions into where they live?
Either way, the new work landscape will be much different in the future. People’s decisions about where they live will be less governed by where they work, and more so, by what they value in a city. Cities, and small towns alike, will have to adapt as they try to attract or retain citizens. Cities and towns will be inclined to adopt environmentally-friendly policies, so long as we value the environment in which we live.
We have seen the colossal changes that we need to make to restore our natural environment. But we know now that it is possible. Believing that our goals are achievable is half the battle. We have witnessed a global response to a global problem, and there will be more to come. When we look back on these moments, let us remember what we are capable of.
As of this writing 106 countries have formally stated their commitment to enhancing their national climate commitments by the end of the year. Our planet needs our help. Staying at home might, once again, be a simple and effective solution.
If you want to learn more about how to effectively work from anywhere, be sure to subscribe for our updates and check out our resources. We are always available to answer your questions about working remotely.
Experience a new city, without any hassles. Apartments, workspaces and fitness studios, vetted for you.