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Sustainability in the home office – How you get most out of it

Two weeks ago, who would have thought home office would suddenly become the new normal?

Yet here we are, and as things continue to change rapidly, we know we’re all in this together. We encourage you to #stayhome where possible and to keep yourself and others safe during these uncertain times. Of course, we know this can come with some challenges, but we hope you and your colleagues can make the best of it - you’re certainly not alone!

As you’re reading this, you probably find yourself in a very different environment than your workplace and it might have taken you a while to get everything set up and to settle in. In the past weeks, the team here at AATIS have focused a lot on the topic of sustainability and how we can implement some practices in our offices (both home and normal) and what each individual in our team can contribute to “greenifying the work place” and making a positive change!

We are excited to share some simple things that you can easily implement in your daily routine, or even inspire you to live more sustainably at home in the future. In the end every little action counts and every small step is a step in the right direction.

#1 Be your sustainable best in your home office routine

  • Hygiene is more important than ever. The best way to avoid getting sick is to regularly wash your hands, so how about switching to the good old soap bars or supporting a social enterprise like thankyou to make sure your environmental impact is minimised (actually the good old soap bars can be a good replacement for shampoo and shower gel as well, e.g. from ethique.
  • It’s so important to get your dose of Vitamin D every day. Make sure you regularly go out for a walk or even a bike ride - why not combining it with a trip to the shops, walking the dog or even dropping a gift off to friends or neighbours.  If you can, consider leaving the car at home and walking or cycling instead.
  • Ordering online cans mean “parcel tourism” and lots of packaging - maybe there’s a local store in the area which now offers pick-up options or a more sustainable approach to delivery (less CO2 for transportation or less waste due to reduced packaging). You can also consider how packaging can be used for craft with the kids, with ideas like polystyrene herb gardens, box cars or cubby houses.

#2 Reduce your waste 

The zero-waste movement is becoming more and more popular and we all know we have to start somewhere. We like to live by the rule that ‘we need everyone doing their best, not just a handful of people doing it perfectly’. There are some simple steps everyone can follow listed below:

  • Set up a proper waste system at home; have a look on the website of your council to see what goes into general waste and into recycling and follow the guidelines - it already helps the environment if you properly distinguish between different sorts of waste 
  • Did you know that you can recycle your soft plastics at the big supermarket chains like Coles & Woolworths? Make use of it and get an extra bin for all your soft plastics. Find more information about how it works on the “redcycling” website.
  • Less is more! Usually, you can find a more sustainable replacement product for everything - make a list of products that are running empty in the next days or weeks and have a look at alternatives, maybe some local or online shops can help you on your way to a more sustainable living e.g. Seed & Sprout.
  • Buying in bulk should become the new sexy! Do you maybe know of any bulk food stores in your area? This calls for back to the roots - bring your own glass or Tupperware and fill it up, from tooth paste tablets to oats and unpackaged fruits & veggies, you can get it all! Secret tip: those stores usually all have pasta and rice left!
  • Maybe you are already ahead of the game and own a compost bin or the council provided you with a Green Bin. If not now is the time to look into some different composting options, maybe even your neighbours are registered with sharewaste?

#3 Mindfulness &  Food choices   

Isn’t it always time for a snack? We know in the home office the fridge might be in sight, and self-control can be tested. Think about some healthy veggie & fruit snacks to combat the hunger pangs! A general rule that allows you live more sustainably when it comes to food: buy local, buy seasonal and try to avoid heavily packaged goods as much as you can (no one needs bananas in plastic foil)

  • Get into meal planning and thereby reduce your food waste. It is estimated that 1 in 5 shopping bags ends up in the bin, an estimated amount of $3,800 worth of groceries per household in Australia each year! Sunday night might become the new meal planning night, get your partner or family involved and dare to try out new recipes! Great tips can be found on the blog of Green Kitchen Stories.
  • How about starting a Veggie or Vegan Monday? Eating less meat is definitely more environmentally friendly and it can be nice to start trying out new things, explore new recipes, maybe some blogs like Deliciously Ella might help you in your foodie choices 
  • While shopping: bring your own bags to the shops and reuse them every time and if you can, avoid printing a receipt 
  • Shop local. Maybe there’s a local grocer you can support at least once a week, especially during these daring times? Lots of cafés have set up initiatives with care packages, you never know what goodies you will discover.
  • Friday = scheduled team lunch? Continue your habit and ask your colleagues to all order from local restaurants to support small businesses. You can even schedule a Zoom lunch with your colleagues and share your fancy take away #thegreataussietakeaway (even better if you can request sustainable packaging, or can bring your own container when picking it up!).

#4 Next level – new efficiencies  

  • Try to reduce printing, and make sure that your printer cartridges can be recycled at the end of their lifetime. Only print if necessary, print double sided and don’t use colour if not needed. You can even get paper made out of recyclables or you can use paper you no longer need as note paper
  • Not only do they look good, but plants also help to create a feel-good environment. Plants make your room climate healthier which helps you stay more productive. Inspiration can be found on The Houseplant & Urban Jungle Blog.
  • Very easy, but often forgotten: properly switch off your devices after work. In the office it might have been a routine, make it one at home as well and save energy. Energy saving devices may represent a more sustainable and economic solution in the long-term.
  • Time for a change! How about considering switching your energy provider to a green energy provider like those found on the website of the GreenElectricityGuide.
  • We don’t know what the future holds, but we should all think about our responsibility of our investments. Your super fund plays a huge role in the environmental utility of your savings! Consider checking out blogs that relate to impact investing and green funds, e.g. on the choice website.

#5 After work inspiration

  • If you live in an urban area, how about starting an urban gardening project? There might be lots of hidden potential in your balcony or front yard! Some inspiring DIY videos and more information can be e.g. accessed on the website of Urban Gardeners Republic.
  • The web is full of some sustainability blogs and podcasts. Make sure to check out “The Sustainable Jungle Podcast” for great episodes with inspiring stories from all over the world. More inspiring content about zero-waste living and sustainability in daily life can be also found on their blog.

Some other podcasts we can’t get enough of: SustainabilityDefined, Think Sustainability, The Sustainability Agenda, GreenBiz350 etc.

  • After work, how about a glass of wine and a Netflix marathon… and you can even squeeze in some learning. Some great documentaries have been released. Get the popcorn ready and have a look at Cowspiracy, A plastic ocean, The true cost, before the flood, War on waste series, The story of plastic & many more.

We believe our impact matters, and as we all move into a shifting work environment it’s a great way to do your bit and start a few new pet projects. As small as it may be, it’s good to start somewhere. We hope you found some inspiration in the list. Maybe you have a personal green practice to share with us. Get in touch and let us know in the comments. Most importantly, stay safe & healthy!

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