Want to Save the Planet? Implement Shorter Work Days

If working fewer hours each day sounds like a dream come true to you, then you have something in common with the United Nations. The U.N. is encouraging governments around the world to consider instituting shorter work hours as a way to reduce the environmental impact that corporations and their employees have on the planet. Failure to reduce this impact can deplete natural resources and have a disastrous effect on climate change, warns the U.N.


For starters, every hour a business stays open requires additional electricity to operate lights, computers and heating or cooling systems. Closing early each day reduces the amount of electricity needed to run the office. Secondly, workers often commute to their jobs, so driving fewer days each month requires less gasoline.

While the 40-hour work week is still standard in the United States, some organizations have experimented with condensing those 40 hours into four days, which allows the organizations to close the building for an extra day. Even though this system doesn’t actually shorten working hours, it does reduce operating costs and save natural resources, notes CNN Money.


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A shorter work day or week gives employees more time for sustainable activities that have a smaller impact on the environment, explains the Center for a New American Dream. People with more time on their hands might choose to walk or cycle when they run errands, rather than driving a car or taking the bus.

In many cases, a shorter work week results in a smaller paycheck, which means that employees purchase fewer consumer goods, a trend that conserves natural resources. While many consumers may not like the idea of purchasing less, the U.N. advises that the world must find a way to reduce consumption. If nations continue to consume natural resources at their 2016 rate, by 2050 the earth will need triple the raw materials to meet that level of consumption.

Even though a shorter work week may result in lower wages, employees experience other benefits that may offset this loss, such as savings in child care and commuting expenses. In addition, fewer working hours results in less employment-related stress and more time for family, friends and hobbies, a change that’s good for you and the environment.

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