Measuring our own environmental impact, also commonly referred to as environmental footprint, is one of the first steps towards limiting the damage and pollution we’re all responsible for. It's incredibly important that we have some way to accurately quantify our effects because it is difficult to see the full of extent of our damaging behavior from work and our lifestyles.
The good news is that most people immediately begin to take steps to reduce their environmental footprint once aware of just how much pollution and waste they’re personally responsible for. Still, the process of measuring your total environmental impact can be quite long and drawn out, and involves many different aspects of your life—including your work.
Although the environmental impact of your job doesn’t technically count as part of your personal carbon footprint, it’s still important to know. This measurement can not only help you to look for ways to reduce your environmental impact at work, but can also give you insight into possible areas that you can begin to change at home to help reduce your personal footprint.
Knowing an environmental footprint could also help in the decision to work for a company--it would show a shared concern for the planet and whether the company is open to the possibility of making necessary changes to limit their environmental damages.
In reality, the measuring process involves a huge list of different factors, but to simplify things, here are the three easiest and most important things to look into.
Energy Usage and Its Impact
One of the first things to look at is the amount of electricity you personally use during the day to power your computer, phone and any other electronic devices. As you can imagine, the more you use the devices, the more electricity is needed and thus creates a bigger impact on the environment. Simple things like using newer, more energy efficient devices and avoiding wasting electricity (unplugging things when their not being used like phone chargers or lamps) are obvious ways to help limit damage.
Of course you wouldn't have to worry about your environmental footprint if your company generates their own energy through solar, wind and other clean, renewable sources. It's important to see how your company uses their energy. Maybe there is a more efficient way to spread the usage more evenly through the company.
Waste Production and Recycling
Another important factor in measuring your impact is how much waste you generate, and what percentage of that waste is recycled and/or discarded at a landfill. In fact, simply measuring your waste and focusing more on recycling whenever possible can have a huge impact, as the majority of what we throw out can actually be reused or recycled in some way.
Waste is also the easiest factor out of the three to actually measure. All it takes is time and a scale. Once the waste is sorted, you can weigh each to get a better idea of how much waste your producing and discarding.
The last major factor in the environmental impact your work has is transportation. If you have a job that requires lots of driving, your work is of course going to have a much bigger impact on the environment. The specific amount of impact depends on what type of vehicle you drive, how far you drive daily and at what speeds you drive--the numbers aren't pretty, especially when you begin to look specifically at vehicle sizes. The worst offenders are large trucks, SUV's, and delivery trucks.
Of course, cars aren’t the only form of transportation that has an impact on the planet, meaning all those flights you make for business also quickly add up. Basically, the more you have to rely on burning fossil fuels to transport you around for your job, the bigger impact you’ll have.