Whether you work from home full-time or you just use your home office to pay bills and surf the internet, it's worth the extra effort to set up a green home office. An office in your home is inherently green because you don't have to drive a car to get there, but there are still many more ways to be sustainable. Aside from printing double-sided and recycling paper, let's take a look at five ways you can green your home office.
1. Buy used furniture. Not only is this a budget-friendly move, but it keeps perfectly good furniture out of the landfill and cuts down on raw material use and manufacturing. Check out antique stores, thrift stores or scour Craigslist for used office furniture that's in good shape or needs a little TLC. It's amazing how easy it is to transform an old desk by sanding it down and repainting it, or creating a comfortable seat by reupholstering and adding cushion to that old chair. If you must buy new furniture, look for pieces made with FSC wood. Or get creative, and make your own desk by adapting a salvaged door or other interesting piece of flat wood.
2. Avoid VOCs. By now, you probably know that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are bad for your health and that you should buy low or zero VOC paint for your home office walls. However, paint isn't the only building material that releases these chemicals. Carpet can be a culprit, as well as adhesives. Look for flooring made from recycled or natural materials.
3. Install energy-efficient lighting. Lighting is especially important in a home office, and the best lighting schemes include general light (such as an overhead fixture) and task lighting (like a lamp on your desk.) Try to rely on natural light as much as possible, which saves energy and helps to alleviate that cramped feeling of working indoors. Use compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs for overhead lighting instead of incandescent, since they burn cooler and much longer. Consider using LED task lighting for your desk. It burns whiter than most lights, emulating natural light, and doesn't emit any heat.
4. Be an Energy Star. You buy energy-saving appliances for the kitchen, but did you know that electronics may carry the Energy Star label, too? Look for it when you buy a new computer or printer, and be sure to use power-save mode or turn off your electronics when not in use.
5. Ventilate. Office buildings are notoriously over air-conditioned and freezing in the middle of the summer. Don't run your home office that way! Open the window for some fresh air and use a fan instead of running the AC.
These ideas prove that being green doesn't have to be expensive; in fact, it usually saves you money. Working in a green home office is better for your wallet and your health.