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Reducing your environmental impact while working from home

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Anne Ascharsobi

Feb 27, 2022

For many of us, working from home has meant we can spend more time at home with family and enjoy a greater work-life balance. While we’ve done away with lengthy commutes to the office and the emissions that come with them, we should consider if we are reducing our carbon footprint. We may not be using energy, water and supplies in our workplaces, but are we being mindful of these things in our homes?

Creating sustainable habits at home

There are a few simple changes you can make while working from home that could help ensure you are reducing your impact on the environment. Imagine the benefits for the planet if we all picked up sustainable habits during the work day. Here are some tips to get started.

Set a baseline for your emissions

Use an online carbon calculator to find out what emissions you’re likely to be producing at home according to your lifestyle. This helps you evaluate what you’re doing now, and set a goal for where you think you can improve. 

Optimise your home office

  • Try cutting down on printing or going paperless. Instead of using paper to write notes, you could use a digital notes app on your computer – that way your notes will be easily searchable and all in one place. 
  • Set up in a spot that provides natural light to avoid having the lights on during the day. If that’s not an option, switch to energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Add some plants to your work station! Houseplants not only increase the air quality inside, they also add a fresh look and feel to keep you inspired throughout the day.

Stay local

  • Try and find local businesses that are within walking or biking distance rather than driving to your usual cafes or shops near your office. You’ll enjoy some fresh air and avoid the carbon emissions from driving. 
  • If you are driving, optimise your travel by getting a few jobs done in a single trip.

Get into the habit of being energy conscious

  • Getting into simple habits like turning off the lights, your computer, charger and household appliances helps save energy.
  • Dress according to the seasons so that you only need to use your air conditioning or heating occasionally. 
  • Consider switching to a renewable energy provider in your home. Did you know, in 2020, the world added 50% more renewable energy capacity compared to 2019? Now is the time to take advantage of this shift to cleaner energy in your own home.

Be proactive and thoughtful with your food

  • Plan ahead to help to reduce waste by doing your grocery shopping at the start of the week. You can prepare ingredients to save time and ensure you’re not wasting food. 
  • Avoid single-use plastic by storing food in beeswax wraps.
  • Cook enough food for an extra meal or two and freeze it for another day to avoid cooking twice.
  • Dispose of your food scraps by composting instead of sending them to a landfill. Learn how to compost at home or if you don’t have the right space, why not connect with neighbours or community gardens who have compost bins that you can donate to. 

Consider how you use cleaning and household supplies

  • Consider using organic household items as much as possible to reduce the amount of chemicals coming into your home.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water to save energy, and make the most of being at home by hanging out your washing in the sun.
  • Buy cleaning products in bulk or find somewhere to refill existing bottles to avoid more plastic packaging.

Be open to learning more about your environment

Now that you’re not commuting to and from work, why not use the extra time to find information and resources about climate change and how you can live more sustainably. Do you know where the water out of your tap comes from? 

Those of us who live in cities can take many things for granted, so taking the time to learn how water, gas and electricity are made, where they’re sourced and how they get to your home helps us reconnect with the way nature provides us with the essentials for living. 

At Xero, our people are passionate about doing their part to look after the planet. Sophie Duggan, Business Analyst at Xero in New Zealand, tried out some of these tips with her own family and is now encouraging others to have a go.

The tips didn’t require a large amount of effort or disruption to daily life,” said Sophie. “They were things that were simple and fun to implement as a family and were easy to share within our communities“.

For more tips on how to reduce your environmental impact, visit our sustainability hub.

Xero is proud to be certified Carbon Neutral

We’re pleased to have received our second year (FY20,21) of Carbon Neutral certification through the Australian Government’s Climate Active program. We have offset our ‘working from home’ emissions in FY21 to the total of 1,265 tonnes through our high value offsets from Fishermans Bay and Katingan. This is equivalent to taking 275 cars off the road, or recycling 53,825 bags of rubbish instead of sending them to the landfill. We are committed to offsetting our working from home emissions each year moving forward. Find out more about our approach to carbon reduction and offsetting here.

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