As climate change continues to dominate headlines as a leading cause of natural disasters, climate irregularities, and other concerning trends, people around the world are taking note and doing what they can to help slow it down. If you believe climate change is man-made and want to continue doing your part to minimize the effects, then you are probably already working to reduce your carbon footprint, or at least thinking about it. A person's carbon footprint is a measurement of how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a result of their own activities. By nature, IT contractors, and generally most people in the gig economy, have opportunities to significantly lower their carbon footprints. If you're looking to do a little bit more, here are 5 ways an independent contractor can help the environment (you may find you're already doing more than you realize):
1. Telecommute as Much as Possible
Riding a bike or public transportation are both responsible ways to lower a carbon footprint, but they are not always feasible depending on the distance between your home and client. Though your client may have some preferences about how much you're at their site, independent contractors are not tied to specific office hours. Having a home office allows you minimize how much you're in the car, only driving (and dealing with traffic) if you must be at the client's building for important face-to-face meetings or to deal with items that cannot be taken offsite.
2. Schedule Meetings and Errands Efficiently
Of course, you can't be a hermit and must leave the house some times. Planning efficiently will not only save you time but also reduce your carbon footprint with fewer trips. Try to coordinate recruiter interviews in the same area of town on the same day. If you must be in the client's office, take care of other personal items while you're in the area and avoid the trip on the weekend.
3. Ditch the Desktop Computer
Desktop computers certainly have their advantages, but they also require more energy to operate. Switching to a laptop, as well as using your cell phone when possible, minimizes the amount these larger power-suckers have to run. It's also more convenient for you!
4. Avoid Paper Whenever Possible
We live in an electronic world and excessive use of paper is rarely necessary anymore. Rather than printing a document for somebody to review, could you email it or share it through the cloud? What about payments, invoicing and time tracking with your staffing agency? If any of that's still happening by paper, ask how you can switch to electronic.
5. Watch What You Eat
Reducing paper waste is beneficial, but reducing all waste will have a greater impact on reducing your carbon footprint. Lunches at work are a major cause of unnecessary waste. If you bring your lunch, put it in re-usable containers instead of packaging that will end up in the garbage. If you prefer take-out, encourage your favourite restaurant to switch to more environmentally-friendly packaging. Some environmental enthusiasts also encourage ideas like "Meatless Mondays" which follow the concept that meat industries produce high amounts of carbon emissions. There are a number of simple things everyone can do to help reduce their carbon footprint if they're so inclined. How much or how little you decide to do is a personal decision. While it's okay to encourage others to do their part, it's also important to remember that a political discussion at the client's office can have negative consequences on your contract. "Preaching" too much about what people should be doing may not be received well.