The month of International Environment Day finds us confined, estranged and going through the most massive teleworking experiment in history and faced with all our vulnerability as inhabitants of an environment that, this time, we cannot control. Nature is sending us a message: to take care of ourselves, we must first take care of it.
Without transfers, without passing cafes, without corporate stationery and without monitors on 24 × 7, it seems that we have given a pause to our daily environmental footprint.
However, there are some exercises that we can do from our homes to make sure that this “new” office has the least possible impact on the environment.
- Refine your energy footprint
The consumption of electrical energy is what weighs the most our environmental footprint. And although it is elementary to work, there are usually many detours that we can avoid. For example, many devices consume electricity even when they are turned off, which can represent up to 20% of your electricity bill. In order not to be aware of this, there are smart plugs that detect when an appliance is not in use and automatically cut off the power.
Also, many of our electronic devices come with an eco mode. When we do not need these to work at their maximum capacity, we can enable this mode to save energy. And remember to use them, like the laptop's sleep mode, every time we move away from it.
If we are lucky enough to have natural light, take advantage of it to illuminate our office. If not possible, we can rely on energy efficient LED lighting.
- Repeat the 5 Rs (Reject, reduce, reuse, recover and recycle)
The average waste generated by each inhabitant of Argentina is more than one kilo per day. And with the new prevention habits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of disposable materials, packaging and deliveries increases, which thicken landfills and pollute the oceans.
To avoid this, this exercise is practiced in five different ways. Firstly, rejecting single-use materials, such as plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers; then reducing the use of valuable resources like paper (let's digitize our annotations!). Next, reusing articles instead of using disposables, and for that, nothing more practical than incorporating water bottles, thermal cups, fabric bags and hermetic containers to our offices. Finally, recovering everything that can have a second life and, what does not, separating it and taking it to a suitable disposal center so that it can be recycled. Complex materials to recycle, such as aluminum and small plastics, can be compressed into a "Bottle of love", plastic bottles that can be brought to a collection point so that a social organization can turn them into furniture for a charitable purpose.
- Bring nature to your desktop
Research by NASA revealed that indoor plants reduce up to 87% of air pollutants in 24 hours. In addition to relaxing eyesight, plants such as peace lilies, Chinese evergreens, English ivy, sansevierias, and ficus can improve overall air quality and absorb harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, and benzene. To these benefits, many studies add that staying among the vegetation increases productivity and cognitive levels, reduces disease and improves the quality of sleep. Bonus track: these types of plants need very little maintenance.
- Support an entrepreneur with impact
Every day there is a new sustainable entrepreneur who designs under the concepts of the circular economy, putting his creativity to work to recover, reuse and / or recycle post-consumer raw materials. From stationery supplies, furniture and all kinds of objects that complete our office. For that, we can look for seals and labels such as FSC (paper from responsibly managed forests), Rainforest Alliance or Company B.
In addition to encouraging the valorization of natural resources, in this context there is no more sustainable gesture than helping an entrepreneur.
- Practice efficiency with purpose
There is a direct relationship between efficiency and environmental footprint. If we think about it, a good organization of our day, which implies having shorter and more productive video calls, sending fewer unnecessary emails, videos and audios; reduce processes and ease procedures; it will result in a lower environmental impact. Because it will translate into less consumption of bandwidth, data centers, electricity and, therefore, the burning of fossil fuels. So, in this new office, we can exercise putting our productivity and efficiency at the service of a greater purpose: to contribute to the fight against the climate emergency.
By Marian Ventura. Advisor on communication and sustainability. Founder of done! Company B