7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly, Yet Functional Home Office

Save money and be green in your home office.

Sustainable Office
Be Green and Save Green. JGI/Jamie Grill | Getty Images

When you work from home, you have the creativity to make your workspace look and feel however you’d like. No committees telling you that you can’t hang a certain poster or eat at your desk. You’re your own boss and have the freedom to design your office. One thing to consider is your home office impact on the environment. You can design an eco-friendly office that’s simultaneously functional. Use these tips to get started:

1. Choose laptop over desktop. Did you know that laptops consume up to 80 percent less electricity than desktop counterparts? They’re also able to work on one-third to one-fifth the amount of energy. That’s an incredible savings and adds up pretty quickly over the course of a 40 or 50-hour workweek. Energy-efficiency does vary by make and model, so search around and find one that works for you.

2. Reduce dependence on paper. There’s rarely a need to print anything anymore. With email, text messaging, video chatting, and other forms of virtual communication, printing and faxing should be a last resort. In fact, you can even sign documents using online technologies. Reducing your dependence on paper plays a major role in sustaining valuable resources, plus it can lower printing costs.

3. Be mindful of furniture materials. Many people have good habits when it comes to their home office, but fail to consider the items they’re purchasing.

As a result, they may end up purchasing desks that are made out of particleboard or medium-density fiberboard (materials which require more energy in production). By opting for a more eco-friendly material such as bamboo, you get the best of both worlds. Not only is it sturdy and sustainable, but it’s also attractive and stylish.

4. Reduce, reuse and recycle. The three “Rs” of sustainable living are to reduce, reuse and recycle. The first R – reduce – has already been discussed, but what about the second two. We’re talking about reusing and recycling. Whenever possible, reuse and recycle office supplies and items that no longer have use to you in their current form. At the top of this list is ink. Old ink cartridges are not biodegradable and will remain in landfills for centuries if not reused. As an added benefit, many companies, such as Staples, and manufacturers will give you credit or a discount when you recycle ink cartridges.

5. Use non-toxic cleaning materials. Cleaning materials may disinfect your space and eliminate germs, but they often replace those germs with harmful chemicals. Because you spend so much time in your office – touching things and breathing the air – you should be cautious with the cleaning materials you use. Opt for non-toxic solutions when available.

6. Be mindful of windows. Trying to regulate the temperature in your office to no avail? Well, it may not be your HVAC system’s fault. If you have windows in your office, they may be letting in or leaking hot or cool air. Check in and around windows and doors to find leak or cracks.

You can then insulate or caulk these spots to regulate the airflow.

7. Cut down on trips to the store. It’s easy to run back and forth between office supply stores multiple times each day; however, you should be mindful of your trips and try to consolidate as much as possible. Make a list and only go once or twice per week.

Not only is an eco-friendly office environmentally conscious, but also cost-effective. By reducing your dependence on electricity and energy, you can expect to see significant cost savings over time. Contrary to popular belief, it’s also possible for green offices to be functional and comfortable – as shown in this article. Which tips will you use when designing your next home office?

About the Author:

Larry Alton is a freelance writer who's articles have been featured in HuffingtonPost.com and Entrepreneur.com.