One of the great benefits of working from home from your own eco-friendly home office is that it reduces our impact on the environment from traditional office-based work. Office work involves burning fuel to commute and tends to have less sustainable practices regarding the food we consume and our recycling habits.
As more companies transition away from in-office work being the norm, scaling down the standard size of offices, fewer resources are in use to keep substantial office buildings operating. What this means for working from home, however, is that the responsibility shifts onto us to be environmentally responsible in our work practices. Whether you work from home for a company or manage your own business, everyone can do their part.
From energy consumption to packaging and food waste, there are several easy ways to create an eco-friendly home office that you can feel good about.
Save energy in your eco-friendly home office
Creating an eco-friendly home office to save energy, be greener, and give back to the environment is an effort that benefits the environment and significantly impacts your life. If you’re working from home consistently, there are likely places where you can reduce your environmental impact while simultaneously lowering your monthly expenses.
Below, we will discuss several ways that you can implement eco-friendly strategies to reduce your monthly energy consumption and, therefore, utility bills while also creating a more eco-friendly home office.
Make the most of natural light
Artificial lighting can be a big culprit for energy wasted, not to mention that it isn’t the best for your overall well-being. Natural light is superior in providing you with a healthy environment for your home office. Especially over the winter months, when most of us tend to stay inside more often, getting natural light through the windows in your workspace where you spend much of your time is very important.
Not everyone has the luxury of having homework space with abundant natural light. However, there are some things you can do to counter the adverse effects of artificial light. These days, many employers are allowing employees who work from home budgets to create healthy home office spaces. For you, this may mean using that budget to purchase ergonomic office furniture that promotes healthy posture and workflow. However, these will often improve the lighting in your home workspace. Especially if you’ve already had a home office established before the pandemic, you may find that the funds allocated by your employer for home offices seem unnecessary to you. An excellent suggestion if you have the extra money in your budget is to look into having a window added to your home office space or have an existing window enlarged to increase the amount of natural light you have.
Switch to energy-saving devices
With some easy changes and a relatively small amount of money, you can create fake results and how green your home office is.
- Energy-saving light bulbs – High-efficiency light bulbs are something that can create significant impacts on both your energy consumption and utility bill over time. They are more expensive than conventional bulbs; however, that difference is offset by how long they last and how much less power they require.
- Smart plugs – And when we have devices constantly plugged in, even when powered down, they still draw power. Smart plugs detect when your devices are not in use and cut power to that outlet until you use the connected devices again.
- Solar-powered headphones – for most of us, our work-from-home workflow now includes wearing headphones for online meetings. Wireless headphones are a very nice option, and using ones that can charge via solar power means that you are not using more energy to charge your headphones.
Decorating for your eco-friendly home office
Most of us went into the first lockdown over two years ago, thinking that our work-from-home arrangements would be a short-term situation. Many of us have begun transitioning to working 100% from a home or a hybrid work and in-office structure. As this transition has taken place, you might notice that you want to spend more time and attention on your home office. Things like getting new furniture, redecorating, and painting are all areas in which you can make eco-friendly choices to ensure that your new office is environmentally responsible.
- Eco-friendly furniture – Furniture is often not something we think about when it comes to being eco-friendly. However, ensuring the materials you choose for your furniture are sustainable is a significant contributing factor to having a green home office. Many furniture makers these days will offer information about how they source and create their materials and how sustainable they are. For example, vegan furniture is a great stylish and eco-friendly alternative. With some research and online investigation, you can find furniture options in varying price ranges to suit your style.
- Eco-friendly paint – Choosing eco-friendly paint means you will pay slightly more to purchase your paint color. However, your environmentally responsible choice will contribute to having a home office that takes less of a toll on the environment. Most large retailers offering a wide selection of pants will have eco-friendly options for you.
- Plants – Having plants indoors increases a positive mindset and supports well-being. The active caring for intending plants is soothing and gives our mind something to focus on other than work. Not to mention that plants promote healthy air quality and act as natural air purifiers.
- Natural materials – Bringing the outdoor world into your home office is a great way to increase the eco-friendliness of your workspace. Natural materials undergo less processing than their more refined counterparts, meaning you are cutting out the industrial processes these require. Having raw materials indoors facilitates a healthy and balanced workspace.
- Repurposed items & materials – Repurposing unused items is a great way to make your eco-friendly home office more sustainable. Things like using empty cookie tins for storage, a broken guitar into wall art, and saving up wine corks to create a message board are just some of the thousands of options. Another great option is reclaimed wood for flooring, cabinets, and decor.
Choosing eco-friendly home office practices
As with many things related to environmental responsibility, our small habits produce significant results. With minor tweaks to your day-to-day routine, you can increase your home office’s eco-friendliness.
Follow the 3 R’s
When discussing the 3Rs, it’s hard to picture how you would implement these into your daily routine. Below are examples of how you can incorporate this classic reminder into your home office.
- Paper waste – Being conscious of the number of documents you print and reducing that number will go a long way towards cutting down on your overall paper use.
- Packaging – Many use sites like Amazon to order office products, especially when working from home. Drop shipping websites like these will more often than not give you a choice about whether you want your order as fast as possible (which will mean it gets shipped in separate packages) Or in one package. While that instant gratification of receiving your order within 24 or 48 hours may be delayed, choosing a more eco-friendly packaging option is a great way to reduce waste from multiple items shipped separately.
- Energy use – It’s easy to forget to do simple things like putting your computer to sleep or turning the lights off when you leave your home office because, in our regular office environments, these often aren’t things we are required to think about. It may take a bit of time to get used to a new routine, so leaving yourself post-it notes for something like this can be very helpful to remind you to get into more eco-friendly home office habits.
- Printer paper – If your job requires that you have documents printed for your files, a great way to reduce the amount of paper waste you have is to use both sides of sheets of paper or reuse old documents and print on the back of them.
- Furniture – As we mentioned previously, making eco-friendly home office choices in your furniture and decor for your home office will impact how green your work from home space is. This affects the front end, reducing energy consumption and highly chemical-reliant manufacturing processes, and later on when you decide to get rid of your new office furniture.
- Electronics – Unless your job requires you to have the latest and greatest technology, like computer screens, you can generally reuse electronics instead of purchasing new ones.
- All paper – You should recycle anything printed on or in paper packaging for your home office. Even if you have shredded documents, unless you need to have them disposed of for security reasons in a particular manner, these should be things that are recycled.
- Packaging – With growing concerns over the environmental impact of plastic packaging, many companies are making available eco-friendly packaging. When choosing what products to buy, take some time to learn and inform yourself about each company’s standards and practices for their packaging and choose environmentally friendly retailers and manufacturers.
- Bottles and cans – Many of us are culprits of consuming multiple food items, like sparkling water or sodas, that come in cans and bottles. Even if you only drink one or two of these beverages daily, the amount they add up over a month is significant. It’s your responsibility to ensure that these cans and bottles wind up in the appropriate facilities so they can be recycled and disposed of in an eco-friendly way.
Reduce power consumption
Reducing power consumption can be easy and done in ways you may not think of or are unaware of. Let’s expand our awareness and become more energy-conscious by doing the following:
- Turn your lights off! This seems self-explanatory, but it’s easy to leave the lights on in your home office as you come in and out throughout the day — especially when you take longer breaks, like stepping out for lunch or putting on laundry. Turning the lights off in your home office can make a big difference to your energy consumption over time.
- Switch to high-efficiency electronics and appliances. And with the increasing demand for high-efficiency work electronics, newer devices now offer models that consume much less energy than older models. If you’re not looking to upgrade anytime soon, most older devices also offer a power save setting that you can turn on to increase the energy efficiency of your electronics.
- Don’t heat your whole home. Our home office spaces are often a part of the heating grid for the rest of your home. You can increase your energy efficiency in your workspace by setting the temperature for the rest of your home at a lower setting during the day and using a space heater to heat your office. That way, you’re not heating your entire house to the same temperature as is comfortable for you while you’re working in your office but rather only heating the space you’re spending the most time in.
Incorporate renewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources for your home office could be solar, wind, or geothermal power. A combination of these three can also be used, depending on your budget and dedication to using more green energy. Below is a list of ways to incorporate renewable energy resources into your eco-friendly home office.
- Use a solar heater – Once you start using a space heater for your office, consider looking at a model that has a solar panel. If you have a window in your office that you can set a solar panel in, you can likely use this to create energy for the heat in your office.
- Create a small wind harvest system – This option comes with more commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. Many great products harness wind energy for residential power, which can be great options to offset the power required for your home office.
- Upgrade your home’s power grid to use geothermal energy – If you want to create a more sustainable home office, it’s worth looking into using geothermal energy to offset your home’s energy consumption. The systems require professional expertise and installation but can be used throughout your home to utilize the earth’s energy as an alternative power source.
Make every day more sustainable
Much of our environmental impact comes from our small, daily habits adding up over time. Decreasing that footprint is more about making sustainable changes to your everyday routine than implementing large-scale measures infrequently. While this does mean that changes will take longer to add up, most of these changes are simple to implement and don’t require you to make any dramatic changes to your life. Below are some quick, straightforward ways that you can take action to make each day more eco-friendly.
- Switch to reusable instead of plastic bottles
- Avoid purchasing items with unnecessary packaging
- Compost at home
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Plan home upgrades into your yearly budget for things like eco-friendly windows, insulation, and WaterSense-rated bathroom and kitchen fixtures
- Set your lights on timers or install motion-activated lighting
- Sell or donate used items instead of throwing them away
- Look for ways to upcycle old furniture instead of buying new
- Shop around for second-hand high-quality desks and furniture
- Switch to washing laundry in cold water
- Use cleaning products that are refillable to reduce packaging waste
Working from home has many incredible benefits and among them is the opportunity to leverage business resources to create a more sustainable work environment. Small steps over time similar significant results, and taking every opportunity to adjust your consumption and waste reduction will significantly impact over time. We are all responsible for reducing our environmental impact via our consumption of natural resources. Following the steps above will help ease into a more green lifestyle in your home office.