Sustainability Tips for Remote Work
A checklist of suggestions to help advance Cornell's sustainable campus culture from wherever you may be working.
Office Furniture & Home Setup
- The most sustainable product is the one we never build. With so many products already in circulation, consider finding office supplies, including desks, chairs, and other necessary electronic items from one of the many Reuse stores in our surrounding communities, or from Dump & Run, taking place the weekends of August 21st and 22nd and August 28th and 29th, 2021.
- Staff and teams should consider donating goods they will no longer use in on-campus sites to our reuse collection programs. These are also good places to “shop” for office supply products.
- Cornell's Used Furniture Inventory
- Cornell Computer Reuse Association
- Have to buy new?Look for these certifications and product elements to buy the most sustainable product, and read this guide for more tips.
- Buy local!When you buy from a local store, you help keep money and jobs in our economy, and often reduce waste and fuel from shipping.
- Buy durable.A longer lasting product ensures less waste in our landfills.
- Look for wood products that are FSC: Forest Stewardship Council Certified, or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified, ensuring the lumber was harvested from a forest managed in a way to maintain biological diversity.
- Look for bamboo products.Bamboo grows fast and is a great renewable alternative to wood and plastic.
- Look for Fair Trade certification, which indicates workers are paid fairly.
- Additional certifications to look for can be found here.
- Incorporate plants into your home office to decrease stress, add tranquility, improve indoor air quality, and help with attention restoration.
- When shopping for new appliances, make sure your choices are ENERGY STAR certified
- Consider having some products that you take back and forth with you between your remote work and on-campus office locations. A small keyboard and mouse, for instance, reduces duplication of materials and helps reduce risk of sharing germs with others.
- Reduce your computer’s power usage by putting it in power saving mode while you’re not using it. Leaving your computer on all day costs you $75 per year.
- Proper lighting is an important part of any office. To conserve energy & cut electric costs, set up your office in a space with natural lighting. Natural lighting is good for our eyes and helps regulate the effects of blue light from electronics.
- Replace light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs, which save 75% more energy than incandescent bulbs
- Turn off lights & electronics when you leave your home office or your on-campus workspace. Turning off lights can save 10 to 20% of our annual energy use!
- Turn off additional monitors, speakers, printers, and scanners when they are not in use. To make this task easier, use a power strip! The Campus Sustainability Office has a guide on what power strips to buy through EShop.
- Ensure that small appliances like coffeemakers and microwaves shut off when not in use.
Reducing & Diverting Waste
- Ensure you understand the basic recycling and waste disposal rules for Cornell campus and your local community. For hard to recycle items, there are often supplemental programs to help with proper disposal.
- Learn what can be composted at home and consider setting up a home compost bin.
- Eliminate printing altogether or try to reduce how often you use your printer.
- To save paper, use a phone or computer app to take notes.
- Learn about new digital tools to help you avoid printing.
- If you have to print from your home office, print doubled sided in black and white and use carbon neutral or recycled paper
- Wear a reusable cloth face mask if you must meet in-person for work.
- Use reusable glasses and water bottles to eliminate plastic waste.
- If you use a Keurig, use compostable coffee pods.
- If you have a traditional coffee pot, use a reusable filter and/or compost paper filters and grounds.
Health & Wellbeing
- Schedule a lunch break every day
- Turn blue-light setting on computer screen and/or mobile device screen(s) turned on to protect your eyes.
- Take breaks away from the computer screen to keep active.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
- Have an ergonomically healthy workspace setup.
- Schedule video calls to keep up social interactions
- Practice mindfulness in either a scheduled or regular way.