For many, the sudden shift to working from home at the start of COVID-19 brought an unexpected side effect: they could spend more time in nature. Long walks and time meandering in the yard became welcome breaks from endless days at the computer. Gardens flourished, and people took a moment to breathe deeply.

It seemed the Earth also appreciated the time off from commuting, at least in the early days of the lockdown. Carbon dioxide production was temporarily lowered by 17 percent with reduced surface traffic. There was also a 67 percent decrease in commercial waste production and a 14 percent drop in industrial electrical demand during the same period of time. Unfortunately, these figures have almost bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.

But with a little conscious effort, remote and hybrid work can have some positive green consequences. Commuting is one of the biggest pollutants in the US. If every employee who wanted to could work from home half of the time, that would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce off the road, according to a 2021 study by Global Workforce Analytics. That’s a big breath of fresh air, and there are many other ways to contribute to a green Earth

How can we build more ecologically friendly trends into our work-from-home habits for Earth Day?

First, let’s take a quick look at the history of Earth Day. 

A Brief History of Earth Day

This year marks the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day, established on April 22 in 1970. In an era where cars ran on leaded gas, and industry produced unregulated smoke and toxins, Earth Day was a call to save the deteriorating environment. That first Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans – 10 percent of the national population – to demonstrate against industrial development, ecological waste, and harmful pollutants.

Within a year, the bipartisan message of Earth Day led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passing of important environmental laws that still exist in some form today, including the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

By 1990, Earth Day was officially a global movement, with 200 million people worldwide working together to save the planet. Now, over one billion people participate in activities to restore nature yearly, from cleanups to planting trees. 

The theme for Earth Day 2023 is “Invest In Our Planet,” specifically calling on businesses and employees to make the change for a greener environment at work. Companies that actively develop strong Environment Social Governance (ESG) standards don’t just have happier employees, better financials, and responsible practices – they’re working to make a more sustainable, profitable future for everyone.

Earth Day teaches us that whether you’re a multinational corporation or an individual working from home, everyone’s choices can have a positive environmental impact.

Here are 10 tips that show how a small investment in your work habits can make a big impact on the planet. 

10 Tips for Going Greener While Working from Home

1. Unplug your electronics.

Did you know that the wasted energy drawn by devices like idle monitors, laptop chargers, television screens, and printers could have powered 11,000,000 homes? So unplug your computer at the end of the day, or ensure everything is plugged into a smart power strip that stops the drain.

2. Swap out your light bulbs.

Replacing old incandescent light bulbs with LEDs uses at least 75 percent less energy and can last up to 25 times longer. You can also choose from a range of warmth and brightness options to save money and make sure you look your best on your next video call.

3. Let the fresh air in.

Turn off your air conditioning and open the windows if the weather's nice. You can encourage maximum air circulation (and cooling!) by opening windows opposite each other or setting up fans for cross-ventilation.

4. Check your utilities.

If you’re curious about how green your energy is, the EPA’s Power Profiler breaks down how your local electricity is made. Some bills even itemize your usage and show times where levels peak. Many providers offer customers the option to select clean energy generated from renewable sources if you want to take the next step in making your home more sustainable.

5. Skip the printer.

One of the nice parts about working remotely is that most documents are easily shared and accessed in the cloud – no more piles of paper to shuffle through. But if you really need to print something, make sure you recycle it after reading and properly dispose of ink cartridges.

6. Upcycle your office furniture.

If you’ve been itching for a change of scenery, don’t head straight for the nearest big-box store and dump your old desk on the curb. Resale locations like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity Restore often have high-quality, gently used furniture – and will take your old pieces off your hands and out of the junkyard.

7. Take stock of your trash.

If you’re in the habit of tossing all your waste directly in the bin, now’s the time to reassess whether something should really be destined for the landfill. Every county’s rules for recycling and composting are different, but here are some basic rules for upping your recycling game.

8. Eat (really) local.

You're not alone if you’ve been relying on delivery services for lunch. But even short delivery drives contribute to greenhouse gases, and takeout packaging is often wasteful. It’s never too late to learn how to make simple (but tasty) meals in your own kitchen. Bonus points if you’ve been getting your hands dirty in the garden or a planter box. Nothing tastes better – or has a smaller carbon footprint – than something you’ve grown yourself

9. Meet up online.

You may be sick of virtual meetings by now, but the fact is they’re here to stay. They’re also the most eco-friendly way to connect with someone over long distances. Even better news is that the right communications software helps make it feel like you’re in the room together.

10. Take a walk.

For some, the car has become a mobile office, whether taking calls on the road or simply waiting to pick up their kids after school or practice. Unfortunately, this offsets the benefits of a reduced commute and puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Weather permitting, put in some headphones and take a walking meeting with your smart phone. A change of pace and a breath of fresh air can do wonders for you – and for the environment.

A Sustainable Future with Mitel

This Earth Day, and every day, Mitel is committed to protecting the environment and reducing pollution. As a leader in unified communications, we provide our partners and customers with the tools they need to work remotely, and sustainably. Our collaboration solutions allow companies to invest in their employees for the wellness of the planet.

get great content like this weekly
Ready to talk to sales? Contact us.