It was Earth Day on 22 April, so many of us were thinking a lot more about sustainability and what we can do for the planet.
It’s so important to think about how to live and work more sustainably every day, not just on Earth Day.
Also, sustainable actions don’t have to be huge or life-changing to make an impact on the world that we live in. Everyone can take small actions at work and at home to live more sustainably.
What can you do?
To help you to reduce your impact on the environment, we’ve got some easy-to-action tips for you, when it comes to the following areas: Energy, Waste, and Digital.
We’ve also got some recommended documentaries and reading for you to take you to the next level!
Did you know that heating accounts for 50% of the #energy spent in companies? And energy consumption for air conditioning can be as high as 20% for large office buildings.
That’s a lot of energy.
Here’s our top tips for what you can do when it’s cold and hot
When it’s cold
- Turn off the radiators in a room before airing it out and leaving. Ventilation is necessary to renew the air in the room and clean it without wasting energy.
- Close the shutters, blinds and/or curtains at night. Good protection (roller shutters down) can reduce heat loss from a window by 60%.
- Clear radiators of anything that can prevent good heat diffusion.
- Close doors to spaces with little or no heat (storage rooms, stairs, etc.) where a temperature of 16°C may be sufficient.
When it’s hot
Air conditioning is not necessarily necessary if you follow a few simple steps
- Cool down in the morning to create air circulation by opening the windows, and from time to time when it is very hot. And remember to turn it off before you leave!
- Close the sunshades and windows as soon as the outside temperature exceeds the office temperature.
- Use fans. This is often sufficient and less energy-consuming than air conditioning.
- Remember to turn off fans when you leave the room.
When using air conditioning
- Keep the windows closed so that it is efficient.
- Set the temperature as low as 26°C and make sure that there is never more than a 4°C difference between the inside and the outside.
- Beware of large temperature differences that can cause thermal shock.
- Turn off the air conditioning when you leave.
“The best waste is the waste we don’t create”
Did you know that 120 to 140 kg of waste per year are produced by an employee in the service sector?
Multiply this figure by the number of employees and you’ll get an idea of the tons of waste that could be saved!
The almost universal coffee break in the office, often placed under the sign of disposability, produces a lot of waste: sugar packaging, pods and especially cardboard or plastic cups
Tips on how to reduce waste at work
- Reduce or eliminate the use of plastic bottles. Tap water is 200 to 300 times cheaper than bottled water. Even if you use a filter and change the activated carbon cartridge every month to soften it, tap water only costs 2 or 3 cents per litre.
- Use reusable coffee cups
- Limit disposable products in favour of reusable ones and products with little packaging.
- Buy items like coffee, sugar and biscuit in bulk and in large packages. It’s cheaper, less packaging and it’s less waste in the end́.
Did you know that the digital sector’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions is 3.5% (2019), approximately the same amount as aviation in Europe?
Moreover, its emissions are growing fast (+6%/year), which is a problem if we want to mitigate global warming and climate change.
Tips on how to reduce your digital energy use
- Limit data flows. Use audio instead of video. Turn off webcams when video conferencing.
- Favour wired and WiFi connections to 4G: Wired connections in optical fibre and ADSL are a source of energy savings.
- Share equipment and files in the cloud (data stored securely online).
- Delete online data. Think before sending a video, a photo, an email… if it is really necessary. Regularly sort and empty large files stored online and on your digital equipment.
- Lighten up. Resize images and compress files. Use temporary repositories (cloud) rather than email attachments.
- Optimise web browsing to use less energy. Use bookmarks and history, optimise queries, avoid a large number of open windows and tabs.
- Use search engines with purpose such as Ecosia or Lilo search
It’s easy to feel disconnected from the climate crisis and other Sustainability issues. Often, it’s hard to see the impacts of it on a daily basis. In your quest to reduce your impact on the environment, it’s important to keep learning about the topic of Sustainability. Watching documentaries can be one way of doing this.
Here’s a short list of documentaries and movies to help you learn about sustainability and raise awareness.
- My Octopus Teacher. A wonderful immersion into the biodiversity of the sea and a friendship between a human and an octopus (you can watch this with kids)
- Kiss the ground A captivating movie on why and how healthy and fertile soil can help us capture carbon
- Our Planet: Too Big To Fail A compelling case on why business needs to act now
- Let our journey help you The case study of Ørsted’s transformation from a polluting to a “greener” company.
To take your journey to the next level, here’s some book recommendations to help you learn more about the environment.
- Regenerative Leadership by Laura Storm and Gilles Hutchins. A wonderful book summarizing what went wrong and how we can fix it based on the notion that we need to regenerate ourselves as humans before we can “fix” the world.
- Activate the Circular Economy. Reconciling Economy and Nature by Brieuc Saffré & Nicolas Buttin. A beautiful book, simple to understand yet profound. Beautiful illustrations and a framework at the end to help you take action.
- Drawdown by Paul Hawken describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. All solutions modeled in this book are already in place. This is a hands-on book if you are looking for concrete solutions for Climate Action.
Sources for this blog post include: ADEME, France Num, The Shift Project, EU Parliament
Written by Marena Eirich, founder at teams4purpose. For more tips and advice on how to be sustainable at work and in your business, join our weekly Purposeful Monday Newsletter here.
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