April is Earth Month, when we’ll all be more conscious of the effect our actions have on the environment.
We’re proud to be part of the solution, in our own way, by greatly reducing paper use, travel and presenteeism. And we’ll be doing even more this month (more on that later).
Where we are: A difficult, but educational year
Coronavirus has had, undoubtedly, a catastrophic effect on the entire world. But it has also presented us with some interesting findings that might be of benefit long-term. As we mentioned in our remote working article, we’ve been catapulted into a worldwide experiment, and experiments yield data.
So, unsurprisingly, emissions for the past year have been way down, thanks to remote working and (unfortunately) a reduction in business in general.
The European Environmental Agency reports that:
- Road passenger transport activity in Europe for 2020 is down an estimated 57% year on year
- And air traffic is down approximately 65% in Europe year on year
Consequently, nitrogen dioxide levels in the air that we breathe plummeted due to lockdown. In some cases, such as Spain, it fell by 62%.
While this is good news, and brings us closer to the EU ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050, it wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic. So ultimately this is a learning opportunity: it reminds us that remote working is possible on a grand scale, and that we’ve been commuting more than is necessary. Infrastructure for change is here already.
Sadly, our use of plastic grew this past year. Masks and gloves, unsurprisingly, saw a boost in use; but so did online shopping and takeaway consumption. In all, Scientific American reports that some 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves were used every month.
Green Shoots of Hope
Naturally, we could be doing much better. But there have been positive developments. Covid has resulted in reflection and, in some cases, direct action to help our environment.
Vietnam has banned wildlife imports and shut down illegal wildlife markets. Meanwhile, thousands of pollution-related deaths were prevented in China as industries shut down, clearing smog in some areas. On a related note, China has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2060. This is big: At time of writing, China is responsible for around 28% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In fact, 110 other countries have made similar zero-carbon pledges with a deadline of the middle of this century.
In other good news, solar power continues to innovate, with ambient light soon to be a power source. So, light reflecting from the walls and mirrors and your room could power small devices.
We’re getting better at capturing carbon too. There’s been a 8.6% growth in the capture and storage of carbon over the past 20 years.
What you can do
More good news: on a personal and professional level, you’ve probably slashed your carbon footprint this past year. And even before Covid, businesses were showing innovative, committed ways to make a positive difference.
No matter the size of your business, you can take positive steps, including:
- Incentivising cycling to work or remote working
- Using renewable energy providers
- Reducing paper use
- Reduce unnecessary air travel (when air business travel resumes)
- If you’re in a medium to large business, aim for a carbon neutral building
AutoEntry strives to make a positive difference too. Indeed, our data automation software greatly reduces the need for paper, travel and unnecessary meetings. And we’re always looking for ways to do better (more on that below).
What we’ll be doing and talking about this month
We will be holding a competition, asking what green initiatives you’re doing, with prizes that will make your life more pleasant while improving the environment.
AutoEntry will also be running a series of blogs to help guide you to a greener future, including quizzes, practical advice and more. And we’ll be bringing the conversation to social media. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to join in the conversation.