Whether you work at home or at an office, there are some tactics to take for a more environmentally friendly office space.
It seems like every household has a home office these days, even if it’s just a computer desk tucked in the corner of the kitchen. It’s where the kids do homework, you pay the bills, and you handle incoming and outgoing mail. It’s easy to continue old habits here, just as it is in the kitchen, but look!
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There are some simple steps you can take to go green in the home office. Of course there’s always the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, but beyond that, see if you can implement any of these changes.
Having an environmentally friendly office is just a matter of being aware!
Skip the bubbles
I get packages all. the. time. that frustrate me.
There are so many options for shipping that don’t involve copious amounts of plastic.
It’s a simple thing: Instead of mailing or shipping items in bubble mailers or those indestructible Tyvek envelopes from the post office, switch to a more environmentally friendly option.
Envelopes that use recycled newsprint as padding are a much better option for the earth than those plastic laden shippers. Of course, if you’ve received something in a bubble mailer, reusing that rather than buying a new envelope is fair game, too.
Stop junk mail
Not only is a mailbox overflowing with catalogs and junk mail a pain, it’s also an environmental waste.
All that glossy paper (and oh, the fake credit cards!) wastes fuel as it makes its way to your house. And then what? We throw it away. Not at all environmentally friendly!
Don’t make this mistake at the post office
If you toss your paper trash into a receptacle at your United States Post Office, it might be going straight to the landfill.
Not all post offices recycle their paper waste due to privacy issues (mine does not).
Ask; if yours doesn’t, bring the junk mail home with you and add it to your recycle bin.
Be smart about your copy paper
While not every office supply place will carry it, recycled copy paper is a winner. You can order it online if it’s not available to you locally. You’ll just need to plan ahead a bit.
- Eco-Friendly Habits that are Easy to Adopt: 66 Small Changes to Make a Big Difference
- The Environmentally Friendly Kitchen
Switch to rechargeable batteries
Whether you’ve got kids in the house who burn through batteries at an alarming rate or you just use a few in the course of a year, it makes sense to invest in a small collection of rechargeable batteries and a charger. Single use batteries end up in the landfill once they’ve run out of juice.
Rechargeable batteries can be recharged and reused hundreds of times.
We’ve had a battery charger for years. Not only does it prevent lots of waste, it prevents emergency trips to the store when our batteries die at a critical moment, and it saves us money.
Once you pop a rechargeable into the charger and plug the whole thing into the wall, you’ll have batteries ready to go in just a few hours.
Single-use batteries will run you about $6 for a 4-pack of AA batteries. Four-packs of rechargeable batteries go for about $10 each. You can get a small battery charger that works for both AA and AAA batteries for around $10. Or you can get a universal charger from Energizer that charges AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries for about $30.
According to this battery guide, it takes less than a penny’s worth of electricity to recharge one battery:
Batteries just don’t store that much electricity. A typical AA alkaline holds about 3 watt-hours — about the same amount that a 100-watt light bulb uses in two minutes! One of our chargers uses 5 W when recharging four batteries at a time. That means you’d have to use it for 200 hours before using even one kilowatt-hour of electricity, which would cost you about 8.3¢ (the national average). (5 W x 200 hours = 1000 watt-hours = 1 kilowatt hour).
If you’ve been considering a charger but never quite get around to it, this is an easy change to implement.
Here’s what I recommend. Start with a charger and a 4-pack each of AA and AAA rechargeable batteries. Charge them and put them into use.
Then, every time another electronic device is in need of batteries, purchase a set of rechargeable batteries instead of single-use batteries.
You’ll be able to slowly replace all of your disposable batteries, until your household is entirely converted over to rechargeable batteries.
Instead of leaving your computer in sleep mode, turn it off.
Check the copier. Does it need to be on all the time? You can use the power button to turn office equipment off, or consider unplugging completely.
Electronics that are turned off but still plugged in continue to draw power.
This is certainly not a complete list. What tips can you offer for creating a more environmentally friendly office space?