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Working and studying at home green tips

Sustainable Tips While At Home

March 31, 2020 — 

Due to COVID-19, the majority of UM students and staff are now working and studying at home. While adjusting to your at-home workspace, try some sustainably-focused tips and tricks to keep you focused and living green. 

UNPLUG ELECTRONICS: When you’re not using your electronics, make sure you unplug them to prevent phantom power or use a smart strip/power bar to prevent energy from being wasted. Phantom energy is when electronics use small amounts of energy even when they are turned off. According to Natural Resources Canada, phantom or standby power “can account for 5 to 10% of a household’s electricity bill.” In Canada, phantom power use totals about 5.4 TWh, which is the equivalent of the annual power use for 300,000 households (Hydro Quebec).

TAKE A BREAK: Take a break from electronics and screens! Try to take a break from your laptop, television and phone when possible. When you do so, make sure to power them down to reduce power consumption. Try reading a book, repurposing something in your house, making a craft, meditating, trying yoga or taking a walk (while social distancing). Having this small break in your day will let your mind refocus and in the end, help with productivity.

GO PAPERLESS: Even though classes are online and the majority of people are on the computer, it is still important to be mindful of your paper consumption. By reducing your printing and taking notes on your laptop versus paper, you can save trees, resources…and money! If you do have to print, make sure you always print in economy mode to save ink and double-sided to save paper. Make sure to recycle old ink cartridges – many office supplies stores will take them back or refill them for you.

BUNDLE UP: Spring is in the air, but it’s still a bit chilly out. Avoid cranking the heat in your house. Instead, try putting on a sweater, cozying up with a blanket, making your favourite hot drink and taking small activity breaks to increase blood flow. These cozy ideas will allow you to turn down the thermostat to conserve energy and money while still working comfortably. Also, try opening the blinds during hours of sunlight to naturally warm the house.

USE DAYLIGHT: Sunlight will not only save you from turning on lights and using excess power but also help to increase brain productivity. Natural light is proven to keep the human brain more alert. Open blinds to let the light in, and turn off any lights you don’t need. In the evening, ensure only the lights you are using are on.

POWER DOWN YOUR COMPUTER: By shutting off your computer at night, turning off the monitor when you’re away and setting your computer to turn your monitor or screen off after a set period, you can conserve power and save money on your electricity bill. In addition, powering down prolongs your electronics’ life, meaning you purchase less and save more of our Earth’s resources.

GO GREEN: Getting yourself a plant for your home office can help clean the air, reduce stress and even provide sustainable food for you if you choose to plant a vegetable. Having living green around you has health and wellness benefits.

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