With more people moving their workspaces into their homes and many companies encouraging the practice, the power to ensure an eco-friendly workplace has never been more attainable. With a little preparation, your home office doesn’t have to become the environmental disaster site your old office may have been.
Estelle Gee, a professional organizer and director of OrderlyLives.net, says keeping your home office eco-friendly can be easier than doing it at work because you have much more control over how your workspace looks and operates.
“You don’t have to get approval from a committee to make changes because it’s your office,” Gee said.
Start by chucking out your collection of particle-board furniture, which is high in toxins, and invest in solid wood or glass furniture instead that will last much longer. If you’re on a budget, pine can be a great, inexpensive solid wood choice.
“You want to be looking at furnishings that are good for the environment and good for your health, and usually these are one and the same,” Gee said.
Avoiding wasting paper is always a great idea but for those times when you have to print, look for recycled paper, which is often cheaper than, and just as attractive as, virgin paper.
“The paperless office is still a myth, but in this day and age you can buy really attractive papers made with at least a percentage of recycled content,” Gee said.
Saving electricity isn’t just a great help to the environment, it can greatly relieve energy costs. Swap out your regular bulbs for compact fluorescents to save power and remember to unplug anything that’s not being used. Apparently those greedy faxes, computers and radios like to keep sipping electrical current even when they’re turned off.
“Any appliance that’s plugged in is using power, even if it’s turned off,” Gee said.
Keeping your home office clean is important, but be careful about using highly toxic cleansers, which can poison your work environment with a slathering of nasty chemicals that aren’t really necessary for the average cleaning job. Some studies have even shown that toxic chemicals used in cleansers are a major instigator of asthma in children, so if you’ve got some little ones occasionally bursting in for a “power lunch” with you, stick to natural cleansers. Jokes aside, the easiest way to know if a cleanser is safe is to check the label and see if it passes the “Can I eat it?” test. “If you can swallow it, that’s probably a good sign that it’s an eco-friendly product!” Gee said.