Soundhariya Viswanathan / Reading Time: 5 mins
April 22 is observed as Earth Day.
Earth Day is commemorated every year on April 22 to emphasize the significance of environmental protection.
As eco-warriors or wannabe eco-warriors, we all like to do our bit for Planet Earth. But, often, we cannot think beyond planting trees (but oh!, where’s the space, how do we water…), cutting plastic usage (yeah, but, sometimes, we just cannot avoid it…), conserving water (oh yes, yes, wink wink), going green (right, the buzzword is EV, but buying an electric car is expensive… and, oh, where are the public EV charging stations?)
‘Invest in our planet’ is the official theme for 2022. Seems a bit like a tall order, for you and me, common men and women! It would probably require a lifestyle change! But hey, you coworking community out there, take a heart and some pride, because you are contributing to Planet Earth.
The benefits of working in a coworking space stretches to ‘investing in our planet’. Here’s how it goes:
An office needs air conditioning for sure and other common appliances like copiers, scanners, printers, a refrigerator, kettles and coffee machines, etc. These are not only expensive but have a limited lifespan after which they need to be replaced.
Office copiers, on average, have a lifespan of about 3-4 years, printers may last longer, and may need to be replaced after 5-6 years. And as technology evolves, equipment gets obsolete and definitely needs replacement.
Wonder what happens to the equipment that gets abandoned? Most of them end up in a landfill!
But, in a coworking space, we use shared resources: a common printer, copier, etc. This drastically reduces ‘equipment rejects’ and also sends less equipment to landfills, thereby reducing the carbon footprint!
Reduced commute and time are certainly among the top benefits of coworking. Instead of driving across the city to a centralized office many 10X kilometers away, battling traffic jams, bumper to bumper traffic, frayed nerves and tempers, people can choose to work at a coworking centre closest to their home. We all know about how this saves time, fuel and cost. There are also ecological, health and economic benefits to be considered.
Consider this: Passenger vehicles are a major pollution contributor, harmful nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide among others a major side-effect. Reports say transportation contributes more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air.
When the workplace is close to home, we can either choose to walk it and cycle it (healthy, for sure) or bike it. It certainly reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Not to mention the contributions we make to the foreign exchange savings.
Work pattern cannot be uniform, particularly for start-ups. Some days, some hours, everyone is in the office. But, there are as many times when only a fraction of the workforce is at their desks. Now, just because it’s a part workforce, it does not mean part air-conditioning/part lighting could work. All the lights/ fans and air conditioning need to be working at the optimum. Now, this is neither cost-effective nor energy-efficient.
Working from home also increases energy usage exponentially and hence cannot be considered sustainable either. On the other hand, a coworking space has many more people working in it and hence is definitely more energy-efficient.
Styrofoam cups are the single largest contributor to landmass from offices, says a report. According to Washington University, Styrofoam takes 500 years to decompose; it cannot be recycled, so the Styrofoam cups dumped in landfills are there forever!
Another report says Styrofoam is littered more than any other waste product and fills up 30 per cent of landfills globally. The Earth Resource Foundation report states that Styrofoam manufacturers were the fifth largest producer of toxic waste.
To make this simple, coworking spaces have fully equipped kitchenettes with tea and coffee machines. Members are encouraged to bring their own cups from home and use them for tea/ coffee. It’s a simple but effective way to cut down on plastic consumption. Many coworking spaces are also working towards segregating their garbage into recyclable and non-recyclable waste to further reduce their carbon footprint.
Coworking is another name for sustainability
Small changes go a long way in creating an eco-friendly coworking space.
Real estate is responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions. While coworking space is still about brick and mortar, modern techniques, design and architecture have reduced carbon emissions.
Today’s coworking spaces are progressive and have a strong lookout for people, society and planet earth. They are paying close attention to the resources being used plus taking positive steps to fight for the cause of planet earth.
Indoor gardens are one way to bring nature indoors. It not only improves the air quality but also provides a quiet, soothing sanctum amidst work. Plants like ficus, dracaena, spider plants and ferns are commonly seen in eco-friendly office complexes.
Many office spaces are reimagining how they light up their offices. Energy-efficient lighting solutions are used in addition to a clear move towards bigger windows and open floor design to allow more natural light into the workspace. Conventional tiled floors are being replaced with bamboo flooring and the walls are being painted with non-toxic paints.
Yes, it is the same benefits of a coworking space that stretches to make a sustainable lifestyle, helping in ‘investing in our planet’. Shared resources mean fewer landfills, less commute means fewer carbon emissions, optimum energy efficiency and lesser plastic!
Sustainability is growing to be a key differentiator for brands. Choosing a coworking space that makes an active effort to fight climate change is important for a company’s carbon footprint and brand value, and for you!
So, we, the coworking community can take pride in the fact that we are doing our bit. Bit by bit, it may just contribute to Planet Earth!