Tips for creating a green home office

June 19, 2015

Most of us now have a computer at home and many of us have a home office. Even a small set-up can be a drain on energy and a cause of waste and pollution. Take a good look at your workspace and practices to make sure you are doing all you can to look after yourself, your resources and the environment.

Tips for creating a green home office

1. Planning your office

  • Minimize clutter so that you can easily dust, clean and access files, equipment and cables.
  • Make sure your office is well-ventilated as office equipment is a significant source of heat and unhealthy fumes.
  • Avoid office furniture made from wood composites, which can contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose solid wood instead.
  • Consider buying second-hand furniture to recycle materials, save money and reduce chemical fumes.
  • Maximize your use of natural light. Your screen may need to be kept in shade to limit reflections, but try to place a separate desk or table near a window so that you can read in natural light.
  • For artificial lighting, use energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

2. Buying equipment

  • Select energy-efficient products, preferably bearing an Energy Star or Environmental Choice label.
  • Favour manufacturers with sound environmental policies. Reports on the green credentials of computer companies can be found on the Internet.
  • Choose a computer that you will be able to upgrade easily.
  • Consider a laptop. It can use up to 90 per cent less energy than a desktop machine, and can be easily hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and conventional mouse.

3. Earth-wise paper use

  • Print only when necessary.
  • Check for errors on screen before printing.
  • Use print previews to check documents before printing.
  • Print on both sides of paper.
  • Use email instead of regular mail and back-up onto a disk rather than paper.
  • Reuse whenever you can: use the other side of printed pages for notes, use adhesive labels to cover old addresses.
  • Put all office waste paper (except for thermal fax paper if you use it) into the recycling bin.
  • Don't design documents to include pages with little type, such as separate title pages.
  • Don't use unnecessarily wide margins or large typefaces.
  • Don't throw envelopes away if they can be recycled.
  • Don't use a cover sheet when faxing.
  • Don't use adhesive labels on new envelopes.
  • Don't buy envelopes with plastic windows as these cannot always be recycled (check with your municipality); alternatives, made of a material called 'glassine', are available.
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