This article is designed to inform you of essential facts, prompt you to reassess certain behaviours and empower you to be part of the solution.
Getting to work
We understand that the limitations of getting to work have been exasperated by Covid-19. Whereas you might previously have had multiple options, these recently may have reduced as restrictions on trains, buses, cars and even pedestrians make moving around difficult.
Governments and cities around the world have introduced numerous policies and guidelines about getting to and from work. Many have stated that being in your car is the safest and best option. Chances are, if you already had to commute to work with a car, you didn’t have many options previously available to you.
However, many cities and towns are using Covid-19 as an opportunity to encourage walking, cycling and other more environmentally sound ways of getting to work. Now is a great time to work out what options there might be available to you. If you always got the bus, could you now cycle? If you used to drive, is the train a more affordable option?
Everything is changing and opportunities to have a healthier, greener, cheaper and more enjoyable commute may now exist.
Four day working week
Multiple studies and experiments have shown that a four day week doesn’t just have the power to make a healthier, more productive and sustainable workforce, but it could just save the planet.
A four day week is based on the fact that the average person is not productive for every hour they are at work. In fact, they are productive for the minority of the time. In an eight hour day, a worker may only be working for between 2-3 hours. So, if they’re not working for the rest of that time but still doing their job, why not give them that time back as an extra day off? This concept came round to the notion of a 100-80-100 model. You pay 100% of the wage for 80% of the time and you still get 100% of the output.
When people are given more time off, they actually become more productive since they are able to work more consistently in a shorter timeframe. This includes children in school.
A four day week has huge environmental impacts. By cutting our hours worked by 20% we actually reduce our carbon footprint by over 36%. When people are given time off, they tend to pursue low environmental impact activities, reducing the need for energy and resources. People also spend more time outside, bringing them closer to nature.
It is a misnomer that the option of a four day week is only available to some. Even industries with a constant output – agriculture, logistics, healthcare, utilities, emergency response – could operate with their staff on four day shift patterns. In fact, a four day week in these cases wouldn’t just be more productive but would help employ and support more people.
Has your workplace considered a four day week? Perhaps you’re not in a management or leadership position, but why not talk to those who are.
Tell them about the improvements in productivity, revenue and output that have been proven around the world and encourage them to look into it further.
If you have the option, working from home can be a big boost to your mental health and the environment. Being at home considerably reduces your travel footprint, energy use and waste creation. If you still regularly travel into an office, you’re likely spending a vast proportion of your life in an office environment. Whether you do or not, you have an ownership and responsibility to how that environment is fuelling or tackling the climate and ecological emergency. Below is a list of questions to consider next time you’re in the office.
How is energy used in the office? Are the lights, air conditioning units and heaters powered through renewable sources? Could the company generate its own power through solar or wind?
What is the impact of resources? How much printing is done? Is it necessary? Where does the paper, ink, stationary and other resources come from? Are they from sustainable sources or just the cheapest option?
How energy intensive is your environment? Does everyone communicate solely through email or do you talk to each other? Talking uses no carbon, whereas every email that is sent has to be stored on a server somewhere.
Can you support nature where you work? Do you have plants and flowers in your office, or maybe on the windowsill? Maybe you have an outside space that could be flowered, or is it a constantly cut lawn that is useless to wildlife?
What is the waste and how is it managed? Do you recycle or does it all just go in the bin? What happens to old tea bags and disposable coffee cups? Are your coffee pods going to land fill? Is recycling easy for everyone or is there just one bin a corner somewhere? How could you discourage people from creating more waste from their work, or lunches or breaks?
Where is your work pension being invested? If it is in the fossil fuel industry then not only is it propping up an industry that is driving the climate and ecological emergency, but is in a dying industry that is experiencing unprecedented instability and decline.
One of the most effective and immediate actions you can do is move your money away from industries fuelling the crisis. Your pension is a major part of this. It is your money and pension funds work for you, so demand to know where your money is going and if it is being used responsibly.
- Click here to find out how your pension, banking and finances could be driving climate change, and what to do about it
Your work may be based out in the countryside, within or a small town or at the heart of a giant metropolis. Wherever it is, it exists and operates within some sort of community. Have you considered what your office and work environment is doing to support and improve that community?
From local shops to the traffic on your street, there are numerous ways you can be a force for good, both socially and environmentally, when it comes to the people and places around you.
What are the local charities around your area? Could you do regular fundraisers or volunteer? Find out what challenges they are facing and how your work could help.
What is happening on your street? Is the traffic dense, or fast or polluted? Who else is affected by it? Contact the local authority and find out what can be done.
Are there trees on your street, or hedges, or flower boxes? Are there benches and spaces for people to relax and take the weight off their feet? If not, ask your local council about the public infrastructure where you work.
What is the waste infrastructure like? Do you struggle to find and a bin and then when you do, there’s no option to recycle? How clean are the streets? Waste impacts everyone so improving this is beneficial to everyone’s health.
Do people in your work use local, private run amenities? Perhaps you could set up a loyalty programme with the local sandwich shop instead of filing into a café chain or fast food restaurant?
Do you work near heavy industry? Do they create noise, air and traffic pollution? If so, how are they making things better for you and everyone else? Do they pay into a fund for local improvement programmes? If not, why not?
When you leave the office, what is the light pollution like? Are all the lights left on in empty offices throughout the night? Do you know the different companies around the area who could stop waste and pollution like this?