How to make an eco-friendly home office

With 45% of employees working remotely, a home office is an essential space. Designing a comfortable and functional room makes you more productive. While designing, consider how you can help the environment. Here are some tips for getting started.

1. Use eco-friendly lighting

Natural light is one of the best sources of lighting. It conserves energy and can boost your mood. Try to place your desk near a window and have your office in the room that gets the most sun exposure. For the northern hemisphere, that’s the south side – and the opposite for the southern hemisphere.

You can also do other things to help bring in natural light, such as painting with lighter colours and adding mirrors. When you’re using artificial lights, go for LED bulbs. These use about 75% less energy than incandescent lights. Along with energy savings, you can reduce your monthly expenses.

2. Consider getting rid of your printer

If there is a way to print at the office or share with a neighbour, then when your current printer comes to the end of its life, make sure you send it off for recycling without replacing it with a new one. Printers can harm the environment. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals from the ink pollute our soil and water. The other problem is that waste from toner and ink cartridges can be tricky to recycle. 

If you need a printer for your documents, then practice sustainable techniques. Print on both sides of the paper and use recycled materials. Also, look for refillable or remanufactured printer cartridges. Make sure you recycle your old ones as well.

3. Use less energy

Your computers and devices use lots of energy. In fact, a modern desktop PC will use about 60-300 watts of power. One simple way to conserve energy is to turn off devices and unplug them when you’re not using them. Also, consider using a laptop instead of a desktop PC. While using the internet, enable energy-saving features on your device.

In addition to your electronics, use energy-efficient appliances. For example, install a smart thermostat and Energy Star-rated products. Plus, use a desk lamp instead of overhead lighting. Wasting less energy helps the planet and lowers your electricity bills.

4. Purchase sustainable furniture

Picking furniture may be one of the first steps in creating your space. You want to find comfortable chairs with good lumbar support. Also, consider buying a standing desk, which allows you to get up and stretch. Look for eco-friendly products from second-hand stores like thrift shops or antique stores.

Newly made furniture leaves a large carbon footprint due to overseas production and transportation. Sites such as Craigslist, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace or even online auctions if you have a taste for antiques are good options to find high quality items, without contributing to pollution and carbon emissions. Be sure to shop at home first and see if you can repurpose or up-cycle items from another room.

5. Limit your waste

During the day, you may waste tons of materials without even realising it. For example, you toss post-it notes or throw away plastic coffee cups. Yet, this waste ends up in landfills – which release greenhouse gas emissions. So, to eliminate waste, use rags to clean up spills instead of paper towels. You can also hang a whiteboard to write daily reminders instead of wasting paper.

Here are a few more tips to consider:

  • Use recycled printer paper
  • Create digital documents
  • Use a mesh basket to replace disposable coffee filters
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle
  • Eat snacks with less individual packaging

6. Add some plants

Plants can make a space feel more welcoming and bring in a sense of nature. Natural elements reduce your anxiety and increase productivity. Some house plants help purify the air as well. Vegetation, such as orchids, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. You can place smaller plants on your desk or window sill.

Suppose you don’t have a green thumb? There are plenty of easy-to-care-for plants, such as lady palms and fiddle-leaf figs. Bonsai trees are an amazing option too, if you don’t mind the extra learning curve. Along with plants, add some personalised decorations. This can include things like fun artwork, collectibles, or family photos.

7. Paint with eco-friendly materials

Painting your office space makes it feel more personalised and adds character. If you want to go for a calming atmosphere, neutrals, blues, and greens work best. If you want a little more colour, yellow can add a cheerful vibe.

Another option is creating an accent wall. You can paint one wall a different shade of the primary colour or a different one altogether. Accent walls are also great for accenting unique features.

Whatever colour you decide, look for paint with low VOC content. Popular brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams have low-VOC paint collections. VOCs can pollute the air and irritate your eyes and throat.

In addition, go for water-based and latex-based paints instead of oil-based ones. Be sure to properly dispose of paint cans to prevent heavy metal contamination.

Tips to create an eco-friendly home office

Due to the pandemic, many people are now working from home at least part-time. This means an office space is critical to complete projects efficiently.

Of course, designing the room is the fun part! While picking out supplies, make sure you’re considering eco-friendly materials. Plus, focus on sustainable practices, such as reducing your energy consumption. So, follow these tips to create the office of your dreams.

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Cora Gold

Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist (revivalist.com). She strives to live as best as she can, and she loves to share her experiences with life, adventure, sustainability and more through her writing. Follow Cora on Twitter (@CoraGold2), Pinterest (@revivalistmag) and Facebook (@revivalistmag).

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