For the past number of weeks, many commutes have changed significantly to help us flatten the curve. Many Manitobans have been working from home, while many others have been working on the front-lines to help keep the province running.

If you’ve been working from home, also known as tele-commuting or tele-working, your new commute from the bedroom to the kitchen has been helping to reduce our biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions – transportation.

While skipping the drive to work already has a significant impact – as Commuter Challenge demonstrates every year – there is more that we can do from home to reduce our environmental impact.

Check out our seven tips to help you be more green while working from home.

#1 Get Comfortable without the Thermostat

With our spring weather comes great variations in temperature.

  • If it’s chilly, you can bundle up and sip on some hot beverages (like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate). If you are on a conference call you can always wrap your lower body in a warm blanket and throw on some wool socks. 
  • If it’s toasty, you can open a window to let the air circulate and sip on a cool drink (like cold water or a frozen fruit smoothie). If you are on a conference call you can always dress business casual on top and wear shorts on the bottom.

#2 Reduce Paper Use

Excessive printing and paper use can have a significant impact on our forests and recycling systems.

  • Reduce your paper use by writing out your daily to-do list with one of the many websites designed to help with task management (Like Monday, Trello, Asana, My Tasks, etc.). 
  • Get creative and turn some of your recycled paper or cardboard products inside out to use as extra writing space. Cereal and tissue boxes are great for this, as well as envelopes that have come in the mail.

#3 Plan Ahead for Lunch

Using appliances to prepare food for multiple meals a day can take a lot of energy.

  • Consider making extras for dinner and store them in the fridge to have for lunch. Eating leftovers reduces food waste and increases your time to enjoy other things.
  • You could also consider eating more ‘raw’ foods that do not require additional heat to prepare.

#4 Take Breaks from your Work

Stepping away from your work can be challenging to do, but is important for mental health and overall productivity. 

  • Make sure that you give your eyes a break from the computer screen for a couple of minutes each hour (this doesn’t mean a phone break!). 
  • Consider using your breaks to stretch, meditate, connect, exercise, and/or get some fresh air. 

#5 Incorporate Wellness and Activity

Moving our bodies makes us feel better and makes us more productive. If you can no longer have an active commute (walking, running, wheeling, cycling, etc.) it is important to find new ways to incorporate wellness and activity into your daily routine.

  • Try to utilize appropriate ergonomic furniture, ensuring your screen is at eye level and your arms are resting at a 90-degree angle to reduce muscle strain. If this isn’t feasible, try to add in a variety of workspaces to mix up your working position and do your best to maintain proper posture.
  • Consider getting outside for a walk, run, wheel, or bike ride while maintaining the appropriate distance from others outside of your household. Register for Bike Everywhere Month and Commuter Challenge for additional motivation to dust off those bikes and take advantage of reduced traffic volumes.

#6 Give Your Electronics a Break

Keeping electronics and other appliances plugged in when they are not in use can cause significant energy drain.

  • While taking your breaks, consider putting your computer or laptop to sleep
  • When your electronics reach 100%, unplug and let the battery drain throughout the day (or however long you can let it run)
  • At the end of the workday, turn off and unplug your electronics if they are no longer in use

#7 Make Your Space Green and Bright

Get as close as you can to nature while being indoors by using natural light and bringing in plants where possible

  • Open the blinds or curtains to bring in some additional natural light
  • Consider moving your workplace to somewhere that doesn’t require lights all day (if feasible)
  • Bring a plant or two into the space to add extra life and fresh air. If you can plant produce, that is even better!

Now is a great time to use the change of scenery to spruce up your workspace and get re-focused to make more sustainable choices. 

Whether you’re working from home or commuting during Commuter Challenge (May 31 – June 6), make sure you are logging your telecommutes, sustainable commutes, and MORE!

(With contributions from Liane Carter)