Amongst the various challenges Covid-19 has brought, one of the outstanding positives has been the effect lockdown has had on the environment. 

Globally April saw a 17% reduction in carbon emissions with the UK rate falling by as much as 31%; air pollution has plummeted and a quarter of UK asthma sufferers have noted an improvement in their symptoms as a result of cleaner air.[1] 

Many would agree that these are welcome changes and ones we would like to see continue as the world forges its way into a new normal.

So what can we do to help?  

As a staff team we at RAD have embraced new ways of working, transferring a lot of our ‘paperwork’ to online formats, successfully hosting and accessing virtual meetings and training and reducing our commuting distance considerably.  Our own staff travel survey which we conducted just before lockdown showed that as a team we were commuting over 3,000 miles per month, this has significantly reduced as we have changed our working practices. 

Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics says that “there is no easier, quicker and cheaper way to reduce you own carbon footprint than by reducing commuter travel”[2] 

The reduction of RAD’s ‘carbon footprint’ is something we have pledged to address as part of our Business Plan with the first step being to “Identify and reduce all unnecessary or inefficient travel by staff and trustees.”[3] 

Our actions during lockdown have provided a sound start on this and we have probably achieved most of the potential gains in this area already.  Moving forwards there are lots of things we can do and continue to do to help lessen our impact on the environment, one of them is to be more mindful of the journeys we embark upon and what is truly classed as necessary.

Fun Facts

This exercise provides some interesting stats on the social impact of working from home during Covid-19.  Based on 11 members of staff working from home for 17 weeks (85 days), it calculates that we have:

  • saved 1,084KG of greenhouse gases, which is equivalent to planting 49 trees;
  • had 150 hours and 55 minutes of additional productivity;
  • prevented 64,027,939 Covid-19 cases

Whilst these stats are not all encompassing - we have not all been absent from the office the whole time, the printer and phones have been plugged in and the building itself is probably running more or less as normal - they provide an idea of the savings that have been made and the difference we can go on to make.  As we emerge into a new normal and work towards strengthening our Environmental Policy it is good to be aware of how adaptable and resourceful we are and to keep in mind Dr Jane Goodall’s words

“One individual cannot possibly make a difference alone.  It is individual efforts, collectively, that make a noticeable difference – all the difference in the world.”