When most of the world was on lockdown during COVID-19, Earth seemed to appreciate the time off from commuting. The environmental impact of remote work showed that carbon dioxide production was temporarily lowered by 17 percent with reduced surface traffic. During the same period, 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 bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.

However, with a little conscious effort, hybrid and remote work can have positive green consequences. Commuting is one of the most significant pollutants globally. If every employee who wanted to could work from home half the time, that would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce off the road. That’s a big breath of fresh air; there are many other ways to contribute to a green Earth.

How can we build more sustainable work practices and 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 54th 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 critical 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. Over one billion people now participate in activities to restore nature yearly, from cleanups to planting trees. 

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is “Planet vs Plastics,” explicitly calling global citizens to a “60% reduction in the production of ALL plastics by 2040” in a commitment to human and planetary health.

Companies that actively develop robust Environmental Social Governance (ESG) standards don’t just have happier employees, better financials, and sustainable business practices — they’re working to make a more viable, profitable future for everyone through green initiatives.

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 green workspace tips showing how a small investment in eco-conscious work habits can significantly impact 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 remote work is that most documents are easily shared and accessed in the cloud — no more piles of paper to shuffle through. But if you need to print something, recycle it after reading and adequately 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 tossing all your waste directly in the bin, now’s the time to reassess whether something should 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. However, 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 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 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, wear 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 the environment.

A Sustainable Future with Mitel

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

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