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9 Ways Working From Home Helps the Environment

2013-10-09 19.07.31

Here at The Yeomen we are passionate about environmental stewardship. We only get one planet. It’s everyone’s responsibility to conserve resources and reduce their footprint so that the Earth will continue to thrive after we are gone.

That’s a lot of responsibility don’t you think? It’s why we advocate so passionately for a workforce of that works from home. Telecommuting lowers your overall footprint more than you would think. Here are just some of the ways that working from home positively impacts our planet.

Use less paper

When you interact with your colleagues online, there’s no reason to use paper. We don’t print reports, we don’t hang signs, and we don’t have office parties that require banners and paper hats. Everything we do is digital. Telecommuting forces you to do more digitally and use less paper.

Use less fuel

How far do you commute to work? Maybe it’s an hour; maybe it’s ten minutes. Either way, that morning commute is non-existent when you work from home. Think about how much gas that saves.

Here’s a stat for you; the U.S. Patent Office did a study on the impact of their telecommuting workforce in 2007. The patent office had 3,609 employees who participated in “some form of telecommuting” that year. According to their report, they saved 613,000+ gallons of gas, prevented 9,600 tons of emissions, and saved more than $1.8 million in fuel costs by allowing employees to work outside the office.

We asked some of our employees about this. Here’s what they had to say:

“I did some quick math. I was previously using 9 gallons of gas a week to get to and from work. This does not include gas used to go out to lunch or run errands during my lunch breaks, which happened more frequently than it does now.” – Erica

Reduce air pollution

Not burning the fuel it takes to get to work also reduces air pollution by reducing the amount of Carbon Dioxide emissions in the air. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one gallon of ethanol gas produces 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide.

“By working from home I am making a sizable contribution to lessening my footprint on this planet.  I used to drive all over Central and Northern Virginia every month for work.  On average, I would fill my gas tank 2 or 3 times a week and who knows the amount of emissions I was adding to the atmosphere.” – Jason

Take pressure off our transportation infrastructure

All of those cars on the road impact our highways and streets. Think of all of the energy and money it takes to keep up with our city’s transportation infrastructure. By reducing the amount of cars on the road, we increase the lifespan of our roads.

Longer Lasting Vehicles

Your vehicle takes most of its beating on the commute to work. This commute is where we spend most of our time in the car. In fact, according to The Atlantic, the average commuter spends 38 hours a year in their car commuting to work. Idling in traffic, hitting potholes, stopping and going… all of this adds wear and tear to your tires, brakes, engine, and a number of other parts your car depends on. Not spending 38 hours a year in your car leads to a longer lasting car, longer lasting tires, and fewer repairs.

Save energy

It takes a lot of energy to power an office building. There’s the air conditioning and heat, the servers, the lights, the refrigerator, that giant printer every office has… It takes a lot less energy to power your home office.

Less waste

Think about your lunch time routine in an office environment. If you take a lunch, you pack it in a paper sack, or you have food portioned out into plastic baggies. Maybe you don’t pack a lunch. Maybe you head to the drive-through in your car (burning more fuel) to pick up a quick bite to eat that includes individually wrapped foods, plastic utensils and single-serving condiment containers.

“Since I started working from home, I have also reduced the amount of trash I contribute to my local dump. I no longer buy multiple pre-packaged foods nor do I eat out every day like before. Instead I now have time to cook using fresh produce and other fresh foods. I now have time to plan menus, compost leftovers and recycle the materials I do use.” -Carmen-Lee

How about your coffee break? That trip to Starbucks burns fuel, and the coffee cup you are served creates waste. Even if you stay in the office for a cup, chances are your office has one of those single cup coffee makers. No matter how small those single serving coffee pods are, they are still creating waste.

Our employee Simone notes, “Since I work from home I definitely have more time to cook my own meals and use resources attentively without wasting food and limiting my impact on the environment.  I can personally take care of recycling everything I use and as much as I can instead of relying on third parties.”

You choose your environment

When you work in an office, you don’t usually have a say in purchases like furniture, paper, pencils, pens, etc. Working from home means that you get to choose office furniture or products that are more Eco-friendly. You can also choose to work under energy saving lights, or no lights because you get plenty of light from your windows. You can also choose to throw those windows open on a beautiful day to cool off your home rather than running your AC.

“We rarely turn the lights on during the day. Instead, we just open up the windows and use that light. In the office, the lights were always on.” – Erica

Here’s how Vandy chooses his own environment:

“I definitely walk/hike more. Because I have more time, I get a lot more exercise, too. I walk the dogs in the evening, and I walk myself in the morning. Also, because my schedule is so flexible, we shop more frequently at farmers’ markets, which means we eat more locally-sourced food. Being able to hit the weekday markets is a big deal; before telecommuting, our schedules often prevented that, so we could only shop the weekend markets. By the end of the week, it got way too easy to order out, or to supplement our diet with garbage from the local food museum.”

Less shopping

Working in an office usually means professional attire. You’ve got to keep up appearances, which means your professional wardrobe has to be updated at least yearly. Simply put, you shop less when you work from home because it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing.

 

Knowing all of this, think about the positive impact it would have on the environment if your employees were allowed to telecommute even just one day a week. Have you considered telecommuting?

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