The science is clear. Human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, the root cause of global warming, continue to increase year after year. If we don’t act now, the damage will be irreversible. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change we need (according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [U.N. IPCCC]) “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in every aspect of society.” Quite the call to action, isn’t it?
Now, as our global workforce travels less and mostly works from home, you may have heard that less air travel and commuting is lowering carbon emissions. However, the pandemic has shown that even with a significant reduction in air travel and reduced commutes, global emissions are expected to drop by only 7% compared to 2019. These emissions cuts are viewed as only a blip on the radar. We need bigger declines in global emissions, and we need them every single year from here on out. The extreme measures taken in lockdown are impossible and unrealistic to maintain. As Bill Gates put it, “What’s remarkable is not how much emissions will go down because of the pandemic, but how little.” Only through catalyzing global systemic change can we hope to build the future we all want and we all will share. Those are the facts, and, yes, they can be unsettling and might make you feel uneasy. Know what the antidote is to that feeling? Action! And each of us has a role to play in addressing climate change.
Today we announce the Sustainability at Home Guide, intended to provide suggestions to make working from home more sustainable by sharing actionable ways to improve your workspace and protect the planet.
Below, in no particular order, are a few highlights:
1. Protect and plant
Scientists estimate that protecting and restoring nature can get us 30% of the way towards averting the worst climate emergencies. In your own backyard you can grow an herb garden to directly connect with your food and save money while sprucing up your meals. But we also need to protect and plant everywhere.
In January we helped launch the 1t.org initiative, dedicated to conserving and restoring one trillion trees within this decade by connecting, empowering, and mobilizing a global reforestation community. You can help us achieve our goal by donating to our project via Plant for the Planet on the Salesforce tree tracker
2. Update your menu
Every day we make decisions about what food to eat. Every day these decisions impact our health, our wallet, and our greenhouse gas footprint. It is estimated that 14% of the average person’s carbon footprint is related to the food they eat. Switching to a plant-based diet could cut 70% of food-related greenhouse gas emissions. For most people, a complete switch won’t happen, but all of us could aim to do better, like: eating less meat and dairy and more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
3. Beware of vampires
Even when not in use, electronic products that are plugged in may still suck up energy. These parasitic energy losses are often called “vampire energy.” Unplug devices that aren’t in use, enable “sleep mode” or “eco mode” on electronics, and use smart power strips to reduce energy wasted by “standby power.” This reduces your carbon footprint and saves you money too.
4. Go low flow
Sink aerators and low-flow showerheads reduce water and are easy to install. Newer designs that add pressure make it so you may not even notice a difference. Low-flow toilets consume less water and deliver the same flushing results. Look for EPA’s WaterSense label in the U.S. Saving water saves energy and emissions.
5. Manage waste
Waste management is more important than ever with the continued growth of landfills and marine debris, such as the Texas-sized island of garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one of several harming the world’s oceans. We often hear of the 3 Rs, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but there are six Rs in the waste equation — refuse, reduce, repair, reuse, rot, recycle. As we strive for a zero-waste planet, we can all commit to one or two, such as refusing plastic bags at the store when you have your own bag, or reusing a container to extend its life.
There’s a lot at stake, but the good news is we already have the necessary ideas, systems, and solutions to stop the worst effects of climate change. Every individual, institution, government, and corporation has an essential role to play in this transition. Making the lifestyle choices outlined above are important steps each individual can make to support the environment and lower carbon footprint while working from home. And while lifestyle changes are important, they cannot be decoupled from advocating for climate action — and this is why we need you. We each have a unique skill set and resources that we can use to deliver impact that the planet might actually notice. You are just in time. You are a stakeholder. And to quote Paul Hawken, “You are brilliant and the Earth is hiring.” There are countless ways to apply your unique skills and positions to make change in the world. The climate crisis needs champions of all types, so take what you do best and apply it to addressing climate change — the greatest adventure humans have ever faced.
Read the comprehensive Sustainability at Home Guide.
Check out our first digital tree tracker at salesforce.com/trees, built on the Salesforce Platform in partnership with Plant-for-the-Planet, that tracks our progress towards our 100 million tree goal, highlights our partners on our tree journey, and enables donations to some of the projects we’re supporting around the world.
Take our new “Trees to Combat Climate Change” trail on Trailhead to continue learning how trees play a key role in addressing climate change, while unlocking a tree donation for every badge earned.