Monday, November 10, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable in Your Home Office

We have two separate offices in our house. One for me and one for my husband because we both work from home. Physically, we could both fit in his office on the third floor, but it would be very disruptive to have us both in the same space. Plus, I'm a big ol' slob and he's not, so my mess would drive him insane. It often drives me insane.

Anyway, I try to be as environmentally responsible in my office as I can be, and I encourage my husband to do the same. Here are ten easy things that can be done that can make your home office more sustainable.
  1. Plug your computer, printer, speakers and anything else that goes together into one power strip with an off button. When not in use, just touch one button and you turn them all off, saving energy.
  2. Keep a recycling bin for papers right next to your trash can.
  3. Before papers hit the recycling bin - use both sides. I print a lot because I'm not very good at proofreading off a screen. I use the backs of papers (particularly the papers that get sent home from my boys' school) to print on because after proofreading, the papers just get put in the recycling bin.
  4. Buy the best recycled paper you can afford. 100% recycled paper is expensive, but paper with 30% post consumer content doesn't cost much more than virgin paper.
  5. Change the lightbulbs in your office to CFL's or better yet, LED's.
  6. Recycle your ink cartridges. Send them back to the manufacturer, donate them to a cause that is collecting them as a fundraiser, or drop them off at many office supply stores.
  7. Make sure that you properly dispose of e-waste (electronic waste). Electronic equipment that ends up in landfills wreaks havoc on the environment. Most counties have special e-waste collection days, many manufacturers are beginning to take back products, and still useful electronics should find new homes.
  8. Be wise with your office supplies. Reuse folders, save the rubberbands that come wrapped around flowers or newspapers to use in your office, live with a manual pencil sharpener instead of one that needs batteries or electricity. Every little bit helps.
  9. When you need a new piece of office furniture, try buying used first. Go to yard sales, a thrift store, or Craigslist. Or try Freecycle and perhaps you can get what you need for free. You may even want to try e-mailing friends and family to see if they have anything sitting unused that they would be willing to part with.
  10. Think about putting a plant in your office. Unless you've been able to go out and purchase all new eco-friendly furniture, carpeting, and paint for your walls, your office is probably full of toxins from carpets, the glue that holds together your particle board second hand bookshelf, even the ink from your printer. Care2 has a list of plants, such as English Ivy and Peace Lillies, that help remove bad stuff from the air.
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