(Art Credit: Pedro Gomes)
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Happy Earth Day, freelancers! Yes, today is the day where people all over our beautiful blue and green planet celebrate all things Mother Nature and pledge to do their part to help the environment. The theme this year is “invest in our planet” – calling for businesses, governments and citizens to work together in a “partnership for the planet.” Freelancers are a growing part of the global economy, and you, too, have a part to play in supporting a greener future. To help you in that mission, consider these eight tips for running an eco-friendly business in 2022.
1. Work remotely
Ditch the commute – and all its associated carbon emissions – and keep up with the remote working. Thanks to COVID-19, many more clients are set up to do business remotely, so if you can keep the meetings on Zoom and continue to work from home, this will help significantly lower your carbon footprint.
2. Make lunch at home
Instead of buying overpriced food wrapped in single-use plastic, make your own food at home and take it out and about with you. Use reusable containers or wraps to protect it in your bag. This is another earth-friendly tip that’s also good for your wallet.
3. Use public transportation
If you do have to head out to an office or visit clients, leave the car at home and take public transportation instead. It’s far kinder to the environment than single-person car trips, it’s cheaper than driving (especially when gas prices are so high) and it has the added bonus that you can work while on the move.
4. Scale back on printing
Printers are a bit of an overlooked scourge on the environment – a lot of wasted plastic, energy and paper. While it may not be realistic for some freelancers, like writers, to ditch printers completely, thinking twice before you hit “Ctrl + P” can help you scale back on printing and reduce downstream effects on the environment.
5. Upcycle where you can
Often a lot of focus is put on the idea of recycling, and we forget that the best way to be green is to “reduce” and “reuse” in the first place. If things are starting to get a bit worn out, try and fix, repair or upcycle them before you decide to replace them. For example, is your work desk looking a bit worse for wear? See if you can fix and paint it instead of replacing it. This can be a fun project for your downtime and will save you money, too, compared to buying new.
6. Recycle everything you can
If there are things that are absolutely beyond re-use, then do everything you can to avoid them going to a landfill. There’s very little that can’t be recycled these days, especially when it comes to office equipment. Second-hand computer equipment and mobile phones can be donated to charities that refurbish them for people in need, and consumables like batteries and ink cartridges can be recycled through specialty recycling programs.
7. Switch it off
With energy bills on the rise, this is an essential money-saving tip and a going green win! Don’t leave your devices on standby or plugged in to charge when the battery is full. Don’t leave lights or appliances on in rooms that you’re not in – it’s just a waste of energy.
8. Use ethical suppliers
Sometimes when you’re running a self-employed business, you can use your purchasing power for good. Rather than always seeking the cheapest option, you can look for suppliers that are doing good things – and trying to have a positive impact on the planet. For example, you could switch your electricity to a renewable energy company, or double check where your coffee is coming from. These days, there are ethical suppliers on the market for everything from teabags to toilet paper!
Even small eco-friendly steps in the right direction can add up to a big impact for the environment. The most important thing is being mindful of Mother Earth and making smart choices not only in your personal life, but when it comes to your business as well.