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Save the world

21/09/2021 2021/09

Environmental protection while checking e-mails

It's actually so simple: Take the bike or the train to work. Don't print out every e-mail you find in your mailbox. Don't turn the heating up to level 5 as early as the end of August and switch off the overhead lighting at the weekend.

Yes, we know that too: The topic of "environmental protection in the workplace" is not particularly sexy. But why is that? 

Perhaps because, in order to be more considerate of the environment, we need to break out of our own routines and also question what we actually do all day.

So let's start at the beginning: Even on the way to work, small changes can help us avoid adding more CO₂ to the environment before we even have our first coffee than can be offset by the apple tree we planted ourselves in the front yard.

Perhaps you are one of the 50% of Germans who drive to work. If so, try the following experiment (if it is compatible with your commute): Many people currently work "hybrid", i.e. 2 days at home and 3 days in the office. Use these three days to question your first routine. On Monday, you go to work in the classic way by car. On Wednesday, by bus, train and streetcar. And on Friday by bike (maybe you can even finish work early and go on a little bike tour afterwards). For four weeks and then you will be evaluated. On which days did you feel how? How did you arrive at your place of work? Stressed? Energized? Relaxed?

In the best case, the switch away from the car won't be so difficult. At least one or two days a week. Because not only will you reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, you'll actually save money - maybe even time and nerves, depending on how many traffic jams you're otherwise stuck in during the morning rush hour.

Elevator rides and step plans

Yes, I admit it: I take the elevator at almost every opportunity I get. But when I look around, no one seems to like using the stairs. I mean: one floor is no problem. If in doubt, we'll take the second one, too. The third - well, if the colleague running next to you spurs you on, maybe even. But from floor number 6 at the latest, I ask myself why anyone ever bothered to lay 12 marble steps per landing. But anyway. Did you know that an elevator ride over 3 floors produces as much CO₂ as a 500-meter drive by car? You can be glad that you haven't taken the elevator to work so far.

And it motivates me not to take the elevator, at least on the way down. After all, we all start small.

(Not) always energized

One realization seems to have really taken hold in recent months: You don't need a face-to-face event for every 90-minute meeting. This saves regular trips all over Germany and Europe - especially for larger companies with several locations. Thanks to Teams, Meet, Skype and Zoom!

But where digital work is done, electrical power is needed. In the best case, you already obtain this from a "green" provider from renewable energy sources. But even then, it's worth saving a bit of it - at least financially.

The screen saver, for example. Do you actually need it? I didn't actively set mine at all, but when I left my workstation, until recently my office desk displayed changing pictures of Tuscany, Antarctica or the Uckermark on 3 screens. Nice to look at, but not really necessary. 

Some things you are simply not aware of. Or have you ever thought about what happens to the power strip under your desk on Friday after work? Does it stay on all weekend or is there someone who goes through the office again and pulls all the plugs? Maybe you'll just flip the power strip's toggle switch yourself next Friday afternoon. Better safe than sorry.

Quick wins for impatient environmentalists

And for those who don't want to wait until next weekend, here are some tips on what to look out for first thing in the morning:

the ceiling light: in the winter usually in the morning at 7 o'clock switched on, it burns through until in the evening the office is locked. Just pay attention to it tomorrow: Where is a lamp still on, even though the sun has been shining outside for 3 hours?

The heating: you probably know this from home. And you can also pay attention to it at work. Proper heating can save so much energy and money. Don't turn it up directly to the highest setting or heat when all windows are open for shock ventilation anyway. Just 1°C less can save 6 to 10 percent on heating costs.

the printer and copier: We all love to print things out. After all, that's obviously half the battle of getting things done. But as mentioned at the beginning: We actually need very little of it in the analog filing system. Often, the digital version is not only better for the environment, but also to find it again later, or to share it with colleagues.

You see: It's actually so easy to make a small contribution to environmental protection. And you don't have to drive Fred Feuerstein's car to work tomorrow. All you have to do is take the train. So have a good trip!

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