Home Angel, Work Devil


image credit: Chris Taesali

Angela starts every day with a few sun salutations, lunges and stretches. Next, a lightning-speed shower using the bare minimum of hot water. She lathers up with the gentlest soap and shampoo (no parabens, sulfates, or any other part of the toxic 10, thank you very much), then throws on some stylin’ hemp and bamboo clothes. She scarfs down her all-organic breakfast of spelt and kamut O’s, 2 cups of fair-trade-bird-friendly coffee, and wipes her mouth with a 100% post-consumer recycled napkin. Before leaving, she makes double-sure that every light and appliance is turned off, and that the heat drops down a few degrees while no one’s home to enjoy it.

Then she hops on the TTC and trudges into work. Grabs another coffee-to-go (dang, where did that reusable cup go? never mind, I’ll get a paper one). Walks by a series of empty clinic rooms blazing with lights (someone really should turn those off). Then she’s off to the races for the day, printing useless documents single-sided (how do I change that setting? never mind, the meeting’s in 2 minutes, I’ll do it next time…gah, why is last year’s report printing in triplicate?). “Forgets” where the recycling bin is and just uses the trash (that bin is waaaaaaay over there, this one’s right here), and then leaves on all of her lights, computer and printer even though she’ll be gone for a 1/2 day workshop (I don’t want anyone to think I’m away today, and it takes sooo looong…60 whole seconds…to reboot).

What happened?

This may be an extreme example (I told you a MILLION times, NEVER exaggerate), but to some degree, it’s a really common story. Sometimes there’s a divide between work personality and home personality (and the behaviours that follow). Many of us have the best of intentions all the time, but forget to act on it when we’re on our employer’s dime. We feel a sense of responsibility and ownership at home, but all bets are off at work. Or we feel a bit too busy, stressed or confused. As we mentioned in our Earth Hour story last week:

“Most people spend a third of their waking hours on the job, and the planet doesn’t know the difference between the energy I use (or waste) at work v.s. home, nor the recycling and composting I do (or don’t do) in my kitchen v.s. the staff lounge. I may notice the difference more at home because I see my hydro bills (yikes!) and take out my own trash and blue bins, but the stuff at work is just as real, even if someone else takes care of it.”

So what can we do? How do we take ownership at work as well as home? (I hear RuPaul in the background….”work it, own it, work it, own it”). By the way, I’m all ears on this if you have a good idea. If we take the invisible and make it visible…watch the folks in environmental services emptying recycling bins, notice the guy in facilities fix a leaky sink or change out an incandescent bulb for an LED, or check out our Real-Time Energy data, we may get the big picture. Then we just might need 2 cutesy crocheted cushions,  Work-Sweet-Work and Home-Sweet-Home.

2 thoughts on “Home Angel, Work Devil

  1. In Ontario schools the program ‘EcoSchools’ educates and promotes environmentally-friendly behaviors throughout the organization – individual, class, school, community, school board. Students are encouraged to take their new habits home. Making the changes clear and simple helps ( but you know that already). And having the boss expecting to see the Eco-friendly changes helps, too. NP


    • Thanks Nancy! I know of many colleagues that were first influenced by their children to act environmentally responsible.


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