Ten ways to 'green' your home office

If the lockdowns have taught us anything it is that working from home is possible for many of us. Are you still working from home a couple of days each week? Have you ever thought about ‘greening’ your home office? Here is what we did.

HOME & LIVING

Liz de Vries

5/19/2022 4 min read

If the lockdowns have taught us anything it must be that clogging freeways twice a day is unnecessary. Likewise, we now know that flying all over the country to attend meetings just wastes time and money, and is bad for the environment. Conversations can be had, and decisions made just as easily by Zoom or MS Teams.

Whilst using transport much less frequently is a planet positive change that lowers carbon footprints, have you ever thought of other ways to ‘green’ your home office?

Here are some of the ideas we put in place these past two years.

Avoid printing and copying

Being firmly in the over 50s age group myself, I found the transition from printed documents to only reading screens quite a challenge, which I frankly thought I'd never master.

But having started a sustainable business, one of first decisions we made was to stop printing and copying, and now I can honestly that say I’m a complete convert. Old dogs can be taught new tricks! I'm enjoying the ease and efficiency of being able to access all business files and apps, including banking, bookkeeping and social media from my laptop, and increasingly also my phone, at any time.

No more printing and copying saves time and resources.

If you must print or copy…

If you can’t avoid the occasional print or copy for work, opt for 100% recycled paper. We love Planet Ark’s simple but revolutionary idea to no longer wrap reams inside their boxes of copy paper. Less packaging means less waste.

Quick note? Use scrap paper

Want to jot down a few quick notes during a telephone conversation? Instead of buying a new notepad, why not use scrap paper (may I recommend using the real estate flyers that somehow still make their way into the mailbox - grrrr)

Replace regular light bulbs with LED

If you’re spending more time at home you won't be able to avoid having lights and other electrical devices on more often. Consider replacing your regular incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting, more energy efficient LED bulbs. Yes, they are more expensive to buy, but given that they can last up to 40 times longer than regular light bulbs, and are far more energy-efficient, they will have a positive effect on your budget and are definitely worth the investment.

Check PlanetArk’s RecyclingNearYou website to ensure how to best dispose of old LED light bulbs in your LGA.

Use a refillable pen and recycle the refills

Is it better to use a refillable pen or to buy single use? According to Zero Waste Memoirs, using a refillable pen cuts your pen waste by about 50%. The main contributing factor to that percentage is that although pens can be recycled, the majority aren't and find their way into landfill.

Officeworks have made recycling writing tools a little easier by adding a pens and markers box to their recycling wall, where you can also dispose of empty batteries and mobile phones & accessories. Perhaps something to keep in mind next time you go stationery shopping?

You can also go posh and invest in a refillable pen. Select the one that feels the most comfortable to write with and use that from now on. The refills can be recycled at Officeworks :-)

Buy sustainable accessories for your devices

Cord needs replacing? The choice in sustainably made accessories for your devices is growing every day. Next time you need to buy a new charger cord, or headphones, check out the ‘plastic and carbon neutral’ products by Our Pure Planet, an Australian brand founded by three friends, whose mission is to "create a purer planet with a commitment to carving the way toward an environment free of plastic."

Recycle

  • Drink cans and bottles can be recycled at your local Return & Earn

  • Paper, cardboard and recyclable plastics go in the recycling bin

  • Allow your worms to feast on organic waste (including shredded paper) or put it on your compost (either your own or someone else’s – check Sharewaste for more information)

  • Batteries, pens, makers & highlighters, as well as some e-waste can be disposed of at Officeworks.

  • Mobile Muster is the telecom industry's stewardship program responsible for appropriately recycling mobile phones and all their accessories. Check their website for a drop off point in your area.

Use apps rather than machines

Is your printer/scanner/copier old and creaky like ours? Instead of buying a new scanner, use the camera on your mobile phone in combination with any of the available smart printer apps in the App Store or Google Play to scan and save your documents. All the big printer brands have one.

A welcome alternative to buying another machine!

Change your mindset: repair, don't replace

We will be hearing these words more and more in the next few years: lowering carbon emissions requires a different mindset.

We must learn to consume less. One of the ways in which we can do this is to repair rather than replace. Extending the life of furniture and devices in our homes - by repairing them as needed - will go a long way to reducing our waste impact on the environment.

Have leftovers for lunch

Allow yourself a proper lunch break, move to the kitchen, balcony or backyard and have leftovers! Delicious and nutritious, finishing last night's leftovers helps ensure less food gets wasted in your household.

And while we’re at it: although coffee pods can be recycled through among others Terracycle and Nespresso, why not make your cuppa using a moccapot or old fashioned filter? And loose leaf tea instead of tea bags.

Learn more?

If you want to keep on reading and also find ideas to implement at the office, we recommend you start with Planet Ark’s blogs on creating recycling systems at work.

Image via Pexels.