How to Green Your Home Office

Image from by hibachiya2009's flickr.com stream.

Waste is a part of corporate culture and telecommuters tend not to waste as much energy or materials as traditional office workers.

If you’re working from home, that means you are already pretty green, with no commute and a smaller, smarter workspace than big offices or companies. However, there are still some areas where you can streamline your home office to make it run more efficiently and be more environmentally friendly.

Here are a few ways to green your home office:

Buy used supplies
When I was setting up my home office, I was looking for a metal stand that would separate and hold all of my manila file folders. On the leading office-supply websites the item cost between $5 and $12 dollars and would need to be shipped, by truck to my house. Instead of purchasing online from a big-box retailer, I rode my bicycle to a local thrift store and found the item I needed for 50 cents. If possible look at thrift stores, freecycle.org and craigslist.org for office furniture and accessories. You’ll probably get a product made from real materials like metal or wood, and not chemical laden particle board or plastic, a better price than from a big box store, and prevent a perfectly useful item from ending up in the landfill.

Invest in smarter lighting
Change your light bulbs from regular to CFL (compact fluorescent light). Not only will the bulbs last longer, but if you replace one 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL bulb, you can save more than $30 in energy cost throughout the life of the bulb because CFLs use much less energy. Another option is purchasing lamps or fixtures that take LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs, which are even more efficient than CFLs. If your office gets a lot of natural light, then turn off the lights and make the most of the sunshine. Reflective paints on the walls, or shiny linoleum or wood floors will make the natural light in your office seem even brighter.

Save paper and ink
If you can’t go completely paperless, then purchase paper made from recycled content. When a printed document is no longer needed, feed the blank side of the page back into the printer for reuse, to save paper. Before you buy a printer, make sure it is an energy star appliance. Also check for brands with inkjet cartridge recycling program in place, which prevents the cartridges from rotting in a landfill for 1,000 years and instead reuses them to create more new cartridges. Finally, there is a free download for GreenPrint software at www.printgreener.com. This software saves ink and paper, by analyzing print documents from the web or from your desktop, and automatically eliminating any extra spaces, blank pages or excess imagery and printing only what you need.