How to Make a Green & Healthy Home Office

by Guest Author on December 24, 2013

Green office chair with grassAll items needed for a home have an impact on the environment, from the material composition and method of transport to their disposal method. Telephone, computer, office supplies, desk, decorations — whether you buy them new or used, the materials they’re made from and where they come from matter. If you want to work in an eco-responsible way, start by making your home office eco-friendly.

Electronics

Power down equipment when not in use by keeping everything plugged into power strips that can cut power with the push of a single button. This eliminates wasting energy drains in standby mode or when equipment is turned off but plugged into an electrical outlet.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends choosing products with ENERGY STAR® labels when buying electrical equipment for your home office. Energy-efficient office equipment use about half the energy of regular equipment and can save as much as 90 percent on some products, according to Energy.gov. Even just switching large equipment for smaller, like a desktop for a laptop, can save on energy.

Use More Virtual Resources

According to Reduce.org, an average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but it consumes 30 percent of the world’s paper. Reducing the use of paper in your home office can make you more eco-friendly and efficient.

Use virtual resources on the Internet more than paper-based reference materials such as phone books, newspapers, magazines and paper novels. Using e-readers and electronic subscriptions saves paper, shelf space in your office and money. Use virtual office services like online invoicing and records, cloud storage instead of file drawers and send virtual documents instead of printing out multiple copies.

Environmentally Preferable Products

Look for environmentally-preferable products when considering purchases for your eco-friendly home office. The EPA describes these as “greener” than typical products. Look at the recycled content and choose products like woven wood shades with sustainably harvested construction materials, and products with zero or reduced toxic or hazardous materials such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are in many products, including paints, adhesives and upholstery. They emit (or off-gas) toxic gases into the air from products and absorb into surrounding items. Formaldehyde, benzene and xylene are just some of the VOCs in carpets, couches and paints. Ask for products with no or low-VOC finishes, adhesives and materials when buying these products for your home office.

Practice Recycling

The EPA recommends recycling for home offices, both in practice and purchasing, especially for paper. Reuse paper products such as file folders and envelopes, and buy recycled office products such as pens and pencils, paper and furniture. Recycle everything, from paper and cardboard to electronics, ink and toner cartridges, and office furniture and decor. Find recycled products at www.greendisk.com, www.greenearthofficesupply.com, and www.recyclestore.com.

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