How working from home can help the environment

June 23, 2015

Working from home is a very earth-wise option. Even if you do it part-time, you not only free up time for yourself but also make a contribution to the environment. Here's how.

How working from home can help the environment

The general benefits of working from home

When you work from home, you:

  • Reduce traffic. You'll possibly take a car off the road or at least help reduce the number of commuters travelling at rush hour.
  • Save fuel. Especially if you normally drive to work, savings in gas can be significant.
  • Cut pollution. Any reduction in car use, or in any other kind of mechanized transport, helps reduce air pollution, including emissions that contribute to global warming.

Along with cutting back on how much you may need to travel for work, working from home can be earth-wise all on it's own.

Here are four ways to make your home office as environmentally-friendly as possible.

1. Select energy saving peripherals

  • To save energy, have peripherals, such as CD/DVD drives, installed inside the computer rather than purchasing separate units, or buy units that your computer powers directly.
  • Consider multifunction machines, such as a combination printer, copier and scanner, which can save energy.
  • When checking out the price of printers, make sure you factor in the lifespan and price of cartridge refills.
  • If you don't purchase a combination printer, copier, scanner, consider picking up a scanner so you can scan documents and send them via email.
  • If you need a fax machine, choose one that uses plain paper, so that you can use both sides of each page, and look for models that scan both sides of a page, to save energy.
  • Think twice about buying a standalone photocopier as it will use a lot of energy. If you only need copies now and again, use your scanner or fax machine, or a local print shop.

2. Efficient computing

  • Make sure you are using your equipment's energy-saving features.
  • Select the shortest acceptable period of inactivity before your computer switches to sleep mode.
  • Switch off appliances at the wall when you're not using them. Make sure any that have to stay on permanently are Energy Star products.
  • Avoid screen savers. They are unnecessary on modern LCD screens and do not reduce energy use. Use sleep mode or switch off.
  • If your computer doesn't have energy-saving features, turn off the monitor when you're not using it, since the monitor uses up to 80 percent of the power your computer requires to run.
  • Consider using a laptop. It can be just as powerful as a desktop computer and uses 90 percent less energy.

3. Using consumables

  • Opt for folders, binders and dividers made from recyclable materials. Avoid plastics.
  • Buy refillable pencils and pens.
  • Choose paper and packaging made from recycled paper.
  • Avoid chlorine-bleached paper: look for 'chlorine-free' or 'oxygen-bleached' labels.
  • Select the 'draft' or 'rough' print option to conserve toner.
  • Use suppliers who obtain materials from eco-friendly sources and operate recycling programs.

4. E-waste

Huge quantities of office equipment are dumped every year. This "e-waste" adds dangerous toxins to landfills. To cut down on this kind of waste, reuse or recycle your electronics whenever you can.

  • Try to reuse peripherals and other components.
  • Donate your old computer to a non-profit organization or a friend.
  • Ask if the manufacturer of your computer will recycle a redundant machine. Some companies even recycle competitors' computers.
  • Alternatively, look for an accredited computer recycler.
  • Recycle or refill printer cartridges. Many suppliers refill used cartridges. Make sure using refills won't damage the printer or void your warranty.

Along with these four tips for making your home office earth-wise, remember that working from home can save you (and the environment) the cost of driving into work everyday. So, if you, can see about working from home — even doing so part time can help preserve the environment and save you money.

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