If you have ever worked a ‘9 to 5’ job, you probably remember how little impact you as an employee actually had on the office environment. You might have tried to raise awareness around the office, but making a difference takes time and patience.
If you bought in at least one small change, such as metal straws instead of plastic ones, good for you, and let’s hope that your previous company continued on your path. But now that you are working from home, you are the only decision-maker. And you can make your home office as eco-friendly as you wish.
Despite popular opinion, going green is not expensive, and it isn’t a luxury. Believe it or not, it is a good way to save money. But more importantly, it is healthy, and helps the world become a better place.
Let’s start from scratch. What are the home office essentials? If you want to make your home office environmentally-friendly, follow our 4 essentials tips:
If you want to feel good in your home office, good lighting is the way to go. Set your home office next to the biggest window in your house so that you can take advantage of the natural light as much as possible. For eco-friendly purposes, aim to work during the day and take in that wonderful daylight and sunshine as much as you can. Not only will you feel more productive and energetic, but you will also save electricity and reduce energy usage.
However, it is totally understandable that sometimes you will have to work during the evenings too, or nights. In these situations, if you want your home office lighting to be eco-friendly, consider replacing your standard light bulbs with LED bulbs or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). CFLs are cheaper, but they don’t last as long as LED bulbs. Although you might think that LEDs are too expensive, note that they last longer, hence they are very affordable in the long run. Both CFL and LED bulbs use a lot less energy than the standard ones – planet Earth approves!
While we are on the same topic, let’s talk electricity. Obviously, it is an essential part of every home office. Now that you know which light bulbs to purchase, we can proceed with other ways to reduce energy usage:
Turn everything off when you are done for the day
Switch off all electronics and other equipment at the main plug
Buy multiple power strips with one switch so that you can turn multiple devices off at once
Keep an eye on the cooling/heating system
Invest in wall insulation which is good for long term sustainability and energy saving
Find out how much energy you’re consuming on a daily basis by doing an energy audit
Fix broken electric devices that can consume more power than necessary if they are in a bad condition
Aim to unplug all your devices once they are not being used anymore; they can still consume energy if plugged into a power socket
What kind of furniture you need in your home office really depends on the industry of your business. Generally, every home office cannot go without a desk and a chair (possibly a storage cabinet, but we will share below some eco-friendly solutions to filing cabinets).
If you want to go green all the way, you should consider buying sustainable office furniture. Not only will you be saving money but you’ll also be saving the world.
Depending on your preferences, you can either go with vintage-looking used furniture or buy refurbished furniture. Nowadays, there are tons of companies out there that care for the environment and who offer many eco-friendly solutions, so you will even have the option to have your “new” old desk painted/designed to accommodate your tastes.
If, however, you already have all the furniture you need, don’t throw it out only to buy new sustainable furniture. Being environmentally friendly means to think twice about your actions. It would be much more meaningful for the environment to sell your used office furniture instead of throwing it away, when you no longer need it.
4) Office Supplies
There’s no need to cut down on all your office supplies. You should, however, try your best to choose green alternatives. Instead of piling up regular paper clips, pens, pencils, and post-it-notes, get yourself the recycled ones.
These days, there are more and more products, including office supplies, that are being made with recycled materials. Of course, if your job requires you to use products and supplies that don’t have any better alternatives, use them until some better options come along. If you aim to have 90% recycled content in your office, you are doing well.
One of the most used office supplies is definitely paper. Luckily, living in the digital era has made it easier to save trees; go digital and paperless as much as you can. There are so many alternatives to paper, and they can be found online, such as cloud storage and software. Aim to have all your documents online and not in filing cabinets. If there are circumstances when you absolutely cannot avoid paper, then buy recycled paper and print on both sides.
Don’t forget the three Rs of sustainability: Reuse, Recycle, Reduce.
Apart from the office essentials that can become eco-friendly with a little effort, you can also work on the decoration. Adding some green (literally) can bring new energy into your office. A plant, two plants or a green coloured wall can make a big difference.
It is also very important to air the room on a regular basis. Enjoy the eco-friendly environment that you created and share your experience with others – one home office at a time, and together, we can make the world a better place.
Written by Tess Cain