We’ve recently looked at ways to make a work from home space more productive, as well as how to improve our wellness whilst working from home. Now that we’re focused, feeling good and achieving a comfortable work-life balance, we can turn our attention to the hot topic of a greener working environment.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that as a remote home worker, your carbon footprint is already smaller than it would be if you were doing a daily commute Secondly, you can easily transfer the green habits you already use in your home over to your home-study or work area. So, continue to recycle what you can from your office bin, re-use scrap paper, turn your electronic devices off when they’re not in use – all these simple things are easy to forget if you’re a recent convert to working from home.
Remember too that the most eco-friendly action you can take in any environment is not waste anything. The energy and resources used to manufacture, transport, sell and then dispose of things is huge.
Go Green With Your Workspace Décor and Furniture
Major brands now offer more eco-friendly paints in a broad range of colours. Avoid harmful pigments, toxic heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can continually release chemicals for months and cause a variety of symptoms such as respiratory problems and headaches. Choose water and latex-based paints as these contact less VOCs than oil-based varieties. It’s also a good idea to properly dispose of old paint as the metal in the can may have leeched into the paint itself.
Use renewable and sustainable materials where you can. If you’re considering a hardwood floor, bamboo is a great alternative as it’s a fast grower, repopulates quickly and is renowned for its strength. If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly desk, how about a reclaimed wood option.
If you’re wanting bespoke wood furniture that is built-in to maximise your space and achieve a sleek finish, ensure you buy from a high quality local manufacturer who sources their raw materials from managed forestations, and whose product will last the course of time. Cork stools and chairs made of recycled plastic will also reduce your home office’s environmental impact.
Good lighting is an essential part of an office. If you intend to spend an extensive amount of time in the space, and the structure of your home allows for it, installing an energy-efficient skylight is a smart option. You’ll fill the room with daylight while cutting down on electricity costs. Light colours and strategically placed mirrors will also enhance the brightening effect.
Green Office Supplies
Screen wipes inevitably end up in landfill, so use a homemade alternative, such as distilled water and white vinegar, combined in equal measures. Swap plastic pens for pencils, a refillable fountain pen or biodegradable pens made from recycled materials, which are a far more sustainable choice. Instead of lots of printing, upload a free scanning app and scan your signature, to be ready to add to documents. If you need to write something down, you can always use recycled paper or better still, scrap paper.
Energy Saving Habits
With many more people currently working from home in houses that are normally empty by day, there will be an inevitable increase in carbon emissions from home heating. If you reduce your thermostat by just one degree, this action could lead to an 8% saving on your energy bill and carbon emissions (Carbon Trust).
Unplugging chargers and turning off appliances, including computers, when not in use, will reduce your energy consumption. Even when turned off, electronics still consume energy if they are plugged in, thus drawing energy from the grid and putting unnecessary stress on the environment. This is often referred to as “Vampire Energy”. Reducing the brightness on your computer monitor will also have an impact.
You can replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which are a cost-effective option in the long run, although more expensive to start with. You might want to consider halogen or compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) as cheaper alternatives. Both are more efficient and last longer than typical incandescent light bulbs.
Real House Plants
Nothing beats bringing the great outdoors inside. Placing plants around your home office will bring eco-friendly character into your workspace. They help purify the air by reducing pollutants and, in the case of certain plants like orchids and succulents, absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. Plants can decrease stress and create a more peaceful environment, which are important when you’re working towards a deadline.
With so many options, such as terrariums, hanging plants, miniature herb gardens, or simple potted plants, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Opt for English ivy, spider plants and aloe vera if your track record for keeping plants alive is below average!
At Hartleys, we design high quality, sustainable fitted furniture for home studies and bedrooms alike. You can read more about our green credentials and if you’d like to make an appointment to view our showroom, please call us on tel 01756 700471 or you can request a design visit to your home.