10 Steps to a Green Office at Home

Working from home is already a step in the direction of becoming eco-friendly. By not driving to work, less pollution is released into the atmosphere from gas consumption. This is the first step you have taken towards a green office or workspace at home. Wahooo!

There are three things that embrace eco-friendly basics, namely reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce pollution and trash produced, by decreasing the amount of items you consume or use at any given time. Before the item is thrown in the trash bin, make sure it is not something that can be reused. Another way to reduce the amount of trash, is to take party in the recycling program your city has in place. When you recycle the trash, the amount of trash that needs to be thrown away, is decreased.

Here are 10 steps how to improve your work place and at the same time transform your office to a green office.

-1- Less VOC in Paint

When was the last time you walked into a room recently painted, to immediately walk out because of the paint smell and an oncoming headache? The chemicals in paint, volatile organic compounds (VOC), are the reason for the smell and for a headache that will turn into a migraine. Look after your health and use paint with little or no VOC. With a house built in 1847 .. wallpaper is king. However trim, wainscoting, cabinets, random furniture all get touch up.

-2- Natural Floors

Carpets need regular cleaning, which is hard work. There are more natural, easier-to-keep clean alternatives to traditional carpeting. You can choose between natural tiles, wooden floors or painting your floor. Bamboo or hemp is natural materials that make beautiful rugs. Add the rug to your flooring for the final touch. I love wood floors because they are easier to maintain with pets, especially aging pets.

-3- Green Lighting

Windows allow natural light to pour into your office. Switch the traditional bulbs for incandescent bulbs (CFL’s). This warm and pleasing glow is more cost-effective, lasting longer than the traditional lighting. Compact fluorescent lights not only last longer, it uses less energy and thereby produces less pollution. Be sure to dispose of them properly, which doesn’t mean putting them in the trash.

-4- Eco-Friendly Furniture

When buying furniture for your home office, choose wisely. Furniture that is made from wood is certified by the FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council. Choose furniture that is maintainable, in other words, furniture made from fast-growing woods. The upholstery must be organic, and non-toxic paint and chemicals used for the finishes.  If you prefer finding that gem in thrift stores and garage sales, be on the lookout for reusable furniture that can be recycled. That said, buy a good ergonomic chair using your eco-compass. Sitting for long hours is not good and you only compound health issues with poor seating.

-5- Paper Wise

Paper is probably the one item used often, liberally and sometimes mostly unnecessary. Print only essential documents on paper. When you are finished with the document, don’t throw the paper away, but reuse it by printing something else on the other side of the sheet. Buy green stationary. There is paper you can buy that is not made from trees. Recycle the paper when you are done with it. Never ever ever throw it in the trash. We’ve gone paperless this year and I must say, the office is cleaner and the recycling bin isn’t as full.

-6- Print Eco-friendly

Not only the paper, but the printer itself can be eco-friendly. Companies such as HP, Samsung and Dell claim specific printers they manufacture are green.  Look for a printer that is Energy Star compliant. The printer must also have ink save mode and power save mode. As said before, reusable paper sheets can be used to print on both sides of the paper.

Companies, such as Waste Farmers, recycle empty printer cartridges. Another option is to refill printer ink cartridges instead of buying new printer cartridges. Funding Factory raises money for schools and non-profits by buying used printer ink cartridges. Printers and computer equipment can go to Ewaste, who recycles it.

-7- Don’t Waste Energy

Protect the planet and your wallet by keeping a close eye on your electricity usage. Challenge yourself in coming up with new ways to preserve energy. Put lights off when not in use. Use solar power where possible (I charge my mobile & Kindle with a solar charger). Did you know that surge proectors can equate to 30% of your electricity bill? Smart power strips are something to invest in. They cut power to a specific equipment when not in use. This is a great energy saver, because office equipment that is not in use, keeps on using electricity, if not switched off. You can always do what we do – shut down at the end of the day and pull the surge protector from the wall.

-8- Clean, Fresh Air

Plants are beautiful to look at and at the same time function as toxin absorbents. Wet laundry hung inside functions as a natural air humidifier. Regulate heater usage during the cold winter days, with a thermostat that is programmed to a low heat (we stay between 60°-63°). During the warm days of summer, open the window for fresh air. Use an electric fan until you absolutely must switch on the air conditioner.

-9- Naturally Cleaning

Clean with green cleaning materials. Green cleaning materials are easily available due to increase in popularity. What should you look for? Buy cleaning materials that are bio-degradable, that doesn’t have chlorine or other bleaches as part of its formula. Similar to paint, cleaning materials can contain VOC and other toxins that are harmful. Investigate for “greenwashing” from the big name brands, as this is fairly common. Another option is to clean with natural ingredients such as vinegar, borax, baking soda, and water.

-10- Need to Travel

You are not under house arrest, so you will need to use transport. If the destination is close by, consider walking, riding a bike, or use public transport for a destination too far for walking or cycling. If you do need to drive the car, consider the option to carpool and rideshare.

Be patient, every step you take towards becoming eco-friendly, is a step towards protecting the planet. Soon your office will be green and it will spill over to the rest of your home.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

logo1bAt Out of the Office, we are committed to providing earth-friendly administration and offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.

Interested in going paperless, contact us for a personalized coaching session!

Image credit: OpenClipartVectors | CCO Public Domain