Published on December 3rd, 2008 | by Kendra Redman
Furnishing Your Green Home Office
One of the great things about having a home office is that you control how green your office is, not a boss or a corporation.
And green office products offerings have expanded far beyond recycled copy paper…
Now there are many businesses that stock a variety of green office supplies. Some big box retailers, such as Office Deport, Staples, OfficeMax, etc., have added green products to their regular lines. There are also businesses specifically dedicated to green office supplies, such as Green Office.
Try to avoid using paper, period. If you must use paper, make sure it’s recycled. Producing recycled paper saves 55% water as compared to virgin paper. Recycled paper also requires 60-70% less energy to produce than paper from virgin pulp.
- Print only when necessary. Make electronic copies backed up to thumb drives, burned to cds or DVDs, etc.
- Email documents instead of mailing or faxing.
- Notes—why write things down on paper? Shop around for recycled content bulletin boards or make a one-time investment in a chalkboard or white board. If you really want to splurge, consider a tablet notepad to save your notes electronically.
Pens, Pencils, and Ink
- Refillable ink cartridges—the good news is that these can be more cost effective than buying new, while greening the planet.
- Use refillable pens and dry erase markers. Since 1.6 million single-use pens are discarded each year in the U.S., it’s best to look for pens made from recycled materials such as wood scraps, recycled plastic, and recycled metal. There are even biodegradable pens made from cornstarch available from organizations such as Industries for the Blind.
- Zebra-Eco offers many 70% recycled content pens and highlighters. They also provide a great list of Going Green In The Office quick tips.
- While FSC-certified recycled wood pencils are somewhat eco-friendly already, why not use a pencil made from newspapers (find TreeSmart online and Earth Write in some stores) or recycled denim?
- Some utility companies provide free or low cost home energy audits. Make sure to have them evaluate your home office and act on suggestions as you able to in order to benefit from their expert advice on how to make your office more energy efficient. Try this diy home energy audit tool to an idea of areas that may need targeting for improvement.
- Plug all of your electronic equipment into power strips and simply turn the power strip off when not using the office.
- Power management—use the energy saving setting on your computer usually located in the Control Panel under Power Options.
- Select energy efficient lightbulbs for office lighting fixtures and look into efficient lighting products and techniques.
Home Office Accessories
- Be creative. Instead of buying new pencil cups, paper clip trays, etc., use a recycled can, extra drinking glass or a bud vase for a pencil holder. For a paper clip holder use the cap from a jar when you have finished the contents of the jar or an extra soap dish.
- Don’t waste metal by using staples—invest in a staple-free stapler sold in most office supply stores.
- Make your office literally green by adding some houseplants.
- Don’t buy new office furniture. Check with your network of contacts to see if any work for a business that is moving or redecorating. Those businesses might be happy to give away items for free rather than devoting time and manpower to dispose of it.
- Check whether your area has a used office furniture store or browse Cubicle Depot for used office furniture. Of course, in your home office anything goes so you may be able to see and use furniture you currently own in a new light. For instance, a large, antique dining table as a desk would accommodate your computer and also allow generous workspace for other projects.
- Consider used hotel furniture for a desk and chair. There are many companies that specialize in selling these items cheaply when hotels remodel. Search in the phonebook or online for hotel furniture liquidators that offer some great bargains while keeping it green.
- Patronize your local thrift shops and garage sales. Often just a little sanding, painting, or reupholstering will create some great looks for used furniture.
Of course ‘office attire’ is a way to green your home office. In a home office you won’t need to wear clothes that must be dry-cleaned and your more casual attire lends itself to clothing made from eco friendly fibers. Hey, it’s even okay to wear those pajamas and slippers from time to time!