Do It for Mother Earth: How Working From Home Can Help You Help the Planet

Denielle Kennett works from home in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday, April 17, 2018.
Denielle Kennett works from home in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday, April 17, 2018. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Need another reason to work from home?

Do it for the planet.

The pandemic has only increased the acceptance of remote work, particularly as employers try to attract and retain workers amid a tight labor market. By becoming even a half-time remote worker, employees gain back an average of 11 days a year that would have otherwise been spent commuting.

As employees continue to make the switch, it’s estimated that this trend could reduce commuting miles by 70 to 140 billion each year.

How much could dropping your commute do to save our planet?

Figure Out How Much Pollution Your Commute Contributes

Your actual contributions can vary based on a number of factors, including your commute time and driving conditions, but you can get a general idea of your personal output with this tool from the Environmental Protection Agency, which calculates your vehicle’s average mileage and CO2 output.

To figure out how much CO2 your commute produces annually:

  • Determine the number of miles you travel to and from work each day. For example, let’s say you drive 20 miles each way to work for a total of 40 miles.
  • Multiply that number by the number of days you drive to the office for the total number of miles you drive each year. Let’s assume you head to the office five days a week and get two weeks off for vacation: 40 x 250 = 10,000 miles
  • Multiply that number by your car’s CO2 output for your total. If your car produces 261 grams (or 0.575407 pounds) of CO2 per mile, then your commute results in 10,000 x .575407 = 5,754 pounds, or 2.877 tons of carbon annually.

Earth Day Tips to Help Remote Workers

Even if working from home isn’t always an option, every day you cut your commute can help. And when you are working from home, you can help the Earth even more with these tips.

Pay Attention to the Thermostat

In addition to cutting the commute, remote work can help reduce the environmental impact by reducing the need to air condition and heat large office spaces. You can help even more around your own home office.

By opting to dress in layers or use fans around the house, you can control the comfort level of your space without wasting resources on heating and cooling.

Bonus: You can retire that office sweater you wore in your aggressively air-conditioned cubicle.

Pro Tip

Energy consumption goes down across the board when you’re able to stop using office space.

Choose Essential Office Equipment

In addition to the building, an office’s high-volume equipment often requires additional energy to operate and cool. Most remote workers can get by on a less equipment, which saves energy and money.

Reduce Use of Office Supplies

When you use your own office supplies, your cost-cutting tactics can also help the earth. Think: How many sticky notes do you use in the office vs. when you work from home?

That’s a win for your employer, you and the environment.

Happy Earth Day!

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor for The Penny Hoarder.