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Whether you’ve become a remote worker only recently, or you’ve worked from home for some time, you should ensure your home office fulfills both your needs and your responsibility to the environment.
A greater focus on sustainability can provide inspiration while creating a more calm, eco-conscious space. To that end, many simple changes can have a major impact. Here are 10 easy adjustments that anyone can make.
Choose the Right Lighting
There are two eco-friendly forms of lighting: natural or green.
Natural lighting is a great way to brighten an office without wasting energy. The office should be located in a space with many windows to let the light shine through, which may involve rearranging rooms to get the best option. Home-based employees can also paint walls white and install larger, more energy-efficient windows.
The next best option is to use LED lightbulbs. They may be more expensive upfront, but they last longer, are more durable and offer better light quality than other options. Residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
Buy Sustainable Secondhand Office Furniture
Workers may want to get brand new furniture from IKEA or Target when furnishing their home office. While this may seem easier, it’s not necessarily sustainable. The best way to deck out an office sustainably is to shop for furniture secondhand.
Visit a thrift store or consignment shop to find a new desk and other requirements. This will prevent the unnecessary waste that comes with brand new products. People can even check out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find furniture of higher quality for less money and a smaller environmental impact.
Go Greener With Plants
Using plants in office decor can make any workspace greener. They help purify the air by reducing pollutants and will take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, depending on the type. Houseplants can also clear the air of mold, toxins and germs. For example, the braided ficus provides purification while requiring very little maintenance.
Those choosing plants for their office should consider lighting. Workers may need to look for plants that require low levels of natural light or thrive with high amounts of it.
People that don’t have green thumbs still have options for their offices. They can decorate with succulents and cacti, which are well-suited to rough environments that are less hospitable to other plants. They are very low maintenance, requiring a little water and sunlight, making them easy to care for.
Put the Garage to Work
A garage can be upgraded to make it a sustainable home office option. Proper insulation and sealing of crevices can reduce the standby energy expended, which can cost up to $200 per year.
Insulation is crucial to avoid using up energy unnecessarily. Doors, windows and crevices should be sealed throughout the garage to improve energy efficiency. This will also help make sure that the garage stays at a steady temperature and prevents fluctuations.
Use Green Paints
It’s best to choose eco-friendly paint options when the time comes for a color makeover. With the increase in sustainability efforts, more companies are moving toward eco-friendly selections in a wide range of shades and finishes.
These paints are VOC-free, meaning they release less or no volatile compounds that are harmful to the environment and human health.
Aim to Be Paperless
The increase in digital materials makes it increasingly easier to go paperless. Reading on-screen whenever possible and only printing when absolutely necessary can greatly impact the amount of paper used.
Workers that need to print things every once in a while should opt for 100% recycled paper and refillable ink cartridges. Printing double-sided is another way to save this resource, as just one piece of paper amounts to two pages.
Reduce Energy Consumption
Becoming energy-efficient means creating better habits for power consumption. Workers should opt for a laptop over a desktop PC. They should also eliminate unnecessary devices, such as space heaters, window AC units and home office mini-fridges.
How people use office equipment has an impact as well. It is best practice to turn off everything that’s not in use and unplug things that are not used often since they can still drain energy.
Consider the Five Rs
Most everyone knows about the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle. However, two other terms — refuse and repurpose — can be added to the mix.
Refuse means to say no to products that harm the planet. For example, instead of printing invoices, people can send them digitally. Additionally, people can give themselves 24 hours to think about a purchase before making one.
Reduce calls for decreasing the number of items someone needs to lessen their strain on the environment. This could mean making lists digitally on their phone rather than on paper or buying in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging wasted.
Reuse could mean using reusable drinkware, containers or even reusing paper around the house.
Repurpose includes switching furniture around for a new look instead of purchasing brand new items.
Recycle means more than just recycling garbage, paper and bottles. It can also mean a donation to one of the many charitable organizations so items can be used again by someone else.
Make Easy Switches to Eliminate Waste
Another way to make a home office green is to eliminate as much waste as possible. There are many easy ways to do this, such as:
- Replacing disposable coffee filters with a mesh basket
- Using a whiteboard instead of sticky notes
- Composting organic waste, like fruits and vegetables
- Eliminating packaged snacks and replacing them with bulk items, fruit and other snacks with minimal packaging
- Using washcloths and rags instead of paper towels
Use Renewable and Sustainable Materials
Recent advancements in home improvement technology have created several sustainable selections. For example, bamboo flooring is a great alternative to hardwood flooring.
Wood is renewable, but the trees take many years to regrow and reach maturity. Bamboo repopulates much faster than wood, making it a more viable option. It is also cost-efficient, durable, and available in more colors and styles than ever due to its growing popularity.
Making a Difference
Making these changes in a home office can reduce environmental impact. Getting used to a new outlook may take time, but it’s worth it for the planet, for workers’ well-being and for their wallets.
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