Kick Your Commute: Go Green by Working From Home (Or From Somewhere Warm and Sunny)

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Baxterclaws
Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Baxterclaws

What if you could eliminate your commute by working from home?

Or, even better, what if you could take your work with you anywhere: to a Hong Kong hotel room or to a warm beach in the Maldive Islands?

Work from wherever you want? Sound too good to be true? For some adventuresome people, it’s reality.

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Shiznotty
Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Shiznotty

Location Independent Living

Thousands of people work from home, but there are a growing number of “location independent professionals” (LIPs) who can work from anywhere (as long as there’s internet access, of course).

And by eliminating the need to travel to–and work in–an office, LIPs are improving their quality of life and reducing their carbon impact at the same time.

Many LIPs have used their freedom to become perpetual travelers. In other words, they don’t have a home-base. They spend two or three months in one city (or country), and then move on to the next location when the mood strikes.

Photo courtesy of Lea Woodward
Photo courtesy of Lea Woodward

Take Lea and Jonathon Woodward, for example. Originally from the UK, they have run their online company from beaches and furnished apartments in Grenada, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, Panama, and the United Arab Emirates.

Location independent living is one of the ultimate ways to live simply. With no home-base, needs are minimal and traveling light is a must.

Plus, because their jobs allow them to work from anywhere, the Woodwards have eliminated their commute. And they’ve eliminated their need for an office entirely.

Kick Your Commute: Environmental Impact

The average American spends over 100 hours per year getting to and from work. Although some workers walk, bike, or carpool, the vast majority of commuters drive to work. Considering that the average car emits 20.4 pounds of CO2 emissions per gallon of fuel, a reduction (or complete elimination) of your commute would significantly impact your annual carbon emissions.

Photo by Guillermo Esteves
Photo by Guillermo Esteves

For example, if 5% of New Yorkers stopped commuting via vehicle, they would eliminate 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year. This is equivalent to planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan!

Goodbye Office: Environmental Impact

Office buildings themselves are responsible for a staggering level of energy consumption:

Buildings accounted for 39.4 percent of total US energy consumption. Residential buildings accounted for 54.6 percent of that total, while commercial buildings accounted for the other 45.4 percent. EPA

These numbers show that roughly half of the buildings in the US are for personal use and the other half are for commercial use. If working independently (or from home) can reduce the need for commercial buildings, this can only help reduce energy consumption resulting from commercial buildings.

Of course, building greener buildings helps, too.

Location Independent Living: Not for Everybody

Unfortunately, not all careers lend themselves to becoming “location independent.” And not everyone is interested in working from exotic or relaxing locales. (Although you’ve got to admit, it’s tempting!)
But even if location independent living isn’t for you, you can still start kicking your commute.

More and more businesses are recognizing the economic benefits of having employees work from home. Increased productivity and fewer sick days among staff are just some of the benefits that resonate with employers.

Some sectors are receptive to having employees work from home one or more days per week. Consider broaching the subject at your office. You never know, it might be the first step to a location independent career!

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Go Dolphin
Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Go Dolphin

If commuting is a necessity for you, consider what you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your commute.

Everyone is able to reduce the impact of their commute in one way or another. A once-a-month carpool? A greener vehicle? A bike commute or two during the summer?

Small steps lead to larger changes, so start kicking your commute!

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