10 Ways To Green Your Home Office

10 Ways To Green Your Home Office

Having an office in your home shouldn’t mean that room is exempt from your eco-friendly activities. Here are 10 easy ways to green your home office!

1. Reduce your paper consumption

  • Switch your paper bills to electronic billing (ebills), which delivers your bills to your email inbox. This also has the benefit of reducing your filing tasks.
  • Unsubscribe or opt out of mailings, and ask your mail carrier to skip your mailbox when delivering bulk mail.
  • Refrain from printing unnecessary documents.

2. Green your printing

  • Use recycled paper for documents you absolutely need to print.
  • Look for unbleached paper with a post-consumer waste (PCW) content of 30% or more. “Recycled” paper is often made with scraps generated in the paper-making process. It’s the post-consumer content that actually matters. (You can keep a stack of high quality virgin paper on hand for very important documents such as resumes, but only use it for these special purposes.)
  • Conserve paper. Save mostly blank used sheets of computer paper and print on the back side the next time you need to print. Then, recycle that when you’re done with it! Keep a bin for paper recycling right next to your desk, as well as a shredder for sensitive documents.
  • Make ink cartridges last longer. Print your documents in “fast” or “draft” mode and use black and white ink only. Save color and high-quality print settings for presentation materials.
  • Refill or recycle printer cartridges. Most cities have services that will professionally refill your inkjet cartridge for a small fee, and most office supply stores will accept laser toner cartridges back for recycling.

3. Reduce your computer’s energy use

  • Set your computer to go into power saving mode when you’re not using it.
  • Plug peripherals into a power strip so they can all be completely shut off when not in use. Items you can safely plug into a switched power strip are a monitor, printer, scanner, and speakers. Internet devices like a cable/dsl modems and routers shouldn’t be switched off unless your computer is the only one using it. These can be safely switched off if you’re leaving for several days however.

4. Use natural light whenever possible.

  • If your home office has a window, take advantage of the natural light. Rearrange your office if necessary to eliminate screen glare. For several months of the year, interior lights could be completely unnecessary on most days.

5. Freshen your air with potted plants

  • Having a potted plant on your desk can help improve the air quality in your office by removing airborne contaminants and CO2, as well as balancing humidity. Studies indicate that plant-filled rooms contain 50-60% fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants. Just a single plant on your desk can clean an area of 6 to 8 cubic feet. The best plants to use? Areca Palm, Rubber Plant, Ficus, Dracena, English Ivy, Boston Fern, Spider Plant, and Moth Orchid. Learn more: How To Grow Fresh Air.

6. Replace used up or worn out office supplies with green items

  • Need a new notepad, pen or binder? Most office supply stores carry a wide selection of recycled or otherwise green office supplies.

7. Green Your Cleaning Supplies

  • Replace traditional toxic cleaning supplies with eco-friendly products. Most supermarkets sell brands like Clorox Greenworks, Simple Green, and Seventh Generation. These work just as well as harsh chemical cleaning products, but are much safer for you and the environment. Unless your office is exceptionally messy, dry dusting followed by a wipe with a damp microfiber cloth works very well for cleaning most surfaces.

8. Buy rechargeable batteries

  • If you have gadgets like label makers or a wireless keyboard, and they’re still using traditional batteries, invest in a good battery charger. You’ll save money in the long run and keep toxic batteries out of landfills.

9. Replace Energy Hogs

  • If you haven’t updated your office equipment in a number of years, you’re probably using energy hogs. They include everything from laser printers, to scanners, and incandescent light bulbs, which lose 95% of their energy through heat. Look for equipment with Energy Star ratings. Equipment that is still usable can be donated to various charities or schools, but if it’s really obsolete it should be recycled. If you’re in the market for a new computer, switch to a laptop rather than a desktop computer if you can. While a high end desktop and monitor can use more than 500 watts, even powerful notebook computers use only an average of 30 watts.

10. Maintain Your Equipment

  • Take the time to keep your equipment clean and well-maintained. cleaning your computer, printer and other devices every few months with a small vacuum or duster will keep them running smoothly. It doesn’t take too long for a clogged cooling fan to cause a computer to fatally overheat. Keeping your computer’s files well maintained will prolong the life of your computer by keeping it from getting too sluggish.
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Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.


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