Since the pandemic, many of us have experienced a change in our workplace environment. Commercial spaces emptied and the downtown core saw an outflow of employees moving their work from office to home. Our workplace environment has changed and so has our mode of business operations.
With less commuting, less overall business activities and to some degree, reduced consumption, we realized that this new normal improved our environment, specifically our air quality. Less carbon emissions from the commuting public and less manufacturing activities cleared the air (as they say). Working from home has now taken root and many employers are now accepting this as part of the new corporate reality.
With many of us now permanently working at home while others are working within a hybrid model, how do we maintain the eco progress we have made during the pandemic and ensure that we continue down this greener path?
One answer is to adopt more sustainable ways to operate your office and business. At home, you have full control of your environment from heating, electricity, waste management to purchasing office supplies. Here are ten easy tips on how to maintain a more sustainable workplace at home:
1. Minimize the Printing
There are many ways you can help to save a tree. Remember that wood is not as sustainable as bamboo and requires approximately 50 years of maturity before being harvested into pulp and paper. Reducing the need to print will help slow down the deforestation (which impacts a host of other biodiversity issues). Here are ideas on how to adopt this quickly:
Choose email as a way to receive mail rather than physical documents
- When printing, double side your print jobs to reduce the number of pages and ink required
- Digitize everything. If you have paper copies, scan them using a printer / scanner or take a photo of it to create PDF documents and then recycle the paper
- Instead of printing and distributing presentations, choose to screen share at the meeting or send a link prior to the meeting to prepare attendees for your meeting discussions
2. Cut down on Electricity Use
When not in use, turn things off. Sometimes we don’t realize that office equipment like printers, devices and other computers are using up electricity while idle. There are many ways you can conserve energy at your home office:
- Use the same computer (desktop or laptop) for working and listening to music if possible in order to cut down on the number of devices you are using
- Turn off printers, monitors, devices and other equipment when not in use
- If you have a lot of natural light in your home office, consider positioning your desk near the window to reduce the amount of lights you need
- Replace light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs
- Wear warmer clothes to reduce the amount of heat required or turn off your heater during warmer weather
3. Recycle and Reuse Office Supplies
We buy a lot of office supplies that we throw away after a single use. While there are some items you can’t reuse like notepads with writing, there are many that you can recycle and reuse.
- Binders are reusable and practical. They are expandable, durable, multi-purpose and versatile and a perfect replacement for single use notepads
- Page Flags can be reused. They may not be as sticky as the first time you use them, but they still do the job when reused a second time.
- Rulers and scissors can be reused. If you have a dull scissor, sharpen them instead of throwing them away
- Reuse paper as scrap. Before throwing away a single sided piece of paper, use it for scribbling, sketching, doodling or note taking
- Paper clips and rubber bands can be reused many times over
- Replace single use plastic pens with refillable mechanical pencils.
- Reuse printer cartridges by refilling ink jet or recycle the old ones appropriately
4. Buy Eco Friendly Supplies
Another option to creating a sustainable office is to buy eco-friendly supplies made of bamboo. A majority of office supplies are made from man made materials like plastic which are non biodegradable. Consider replacing these plastic supplies with bamboo made products. Bamboo is 100% biodegradable, eco friendly and far more renewable than wood. Here are some supplies that can be replaced with bamboo:
- Pens and pencils
- Pen and pencil holders
- Drawer organizers
- Device caddies
- Rulers and straight edge sets
- Pencil sharpeners
5. Choose Sustainable Kitchen Products
Working at home means having more frequent access to the comforts of our kitchen. This might mean more cups of coffee or eating snacks more often throughout the day. There are many opportunities to improve our habits in the kitchen. Here are ideas on how to adopt a more eco friendly practice:
- If you’re using k-cups consider using instant coffee or filtered drip coffee to reduce waste
- Make coffee at home instead of buying them from the coffee and then disposing cups that only add to landfills
- Consider using paper bags for your garbage instead of plastic garbage bags.
- Reduce the use of disposable food containers by making food at home instead of ordering out often
- Use stainless steel or eco friendly bamboo utensils instead of plastic take out utensils
Working at home gives one a lot of flexibility and the ability to create a good work-life balance. For the most part, working remotely allows you to have the freedom to choose office supplies that are the most eco-friendly, control your energy use and configure your office in a way that optimizes your space for improved productivity.