One the greatest benefits of working from home -- aside from checking e-mail in your PJs -- is having control over your workspace. Whether your home office is a separate room or a corner of your kitchen, you call the shots, on everything from lightbulbs to cleaning products. Here are 9 simple ways to start greening your home office:
- Invest in a programmable thermostat, which reduces your energy bill. You control the temperature so you don't suffer through air conditioning when it's 50 degrees outside. Adjust it to be a little cooler in the winter and throw on a sweater or wrap up in a blanket.
- Most offices have one light switch that blasts fluorescent lighting over a cubicle maze. At home, pull up the blinds and use natural light. Turn on a small lamp if you need to, and install energy-saving light bulbs.
- The simple fact you're working from home means you've lessened your environmental impact by not driving to and from work every day and puffing carbon emissions into the air. Continue to leave your car in the garage and conduct meetings via video conference. Many computers come with built-in cameras or you can invest in a relatively inexpensive camera and microphone. You get the benefit of an in-person meeting without leaving your desk.
- Buy recycled paper, print on both sides, reuse file folders, and recycle your printer ink (tip: sign up for office store rewards programs and get coupons for recycling ink cartridges). If you're printing your own business cards or letterhead, opt to use recycled paper and soy ink.
- You're probably using a wireless keyboard and mouse, so power them with rechargeable batteries. And when you do need to toss batteries, make sure you recycle them (along with all your other old electronics).
- Turn off and unplug. At the end of the day, shut down your computer, turn off your monitor, and unplug everything you can. According to TreeHugger.com, phantom energy use accounts for about 5 percent of a home's overall electricity use (cha-ching! More savings for your household!). Make it even easier to shut down by plugging several devices into a surge protector so you can switch them all off at once.
- Clean your office with products made from plant-based ingredients, like those made by Seventh Generation. If you work from home but for a larger company with a physical presence, share some of your green techniques with your co-workers. You may find like-minded people in your company who want to implement some of the same environmentally friendly (not to mention easy and often money-saving) practices.
- Find other people in your community who work from home and see where it makes sense to coordinate. During the summer months, you'll save on air conditioning if you gather as a group in one person's space. You might also enjoy the company!
- Literally turn your office green. Plants not only add aesthetic value to an office, but studies show that plants lower stress and improve productivity. Plants also improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide, mold, and bacteria. We recommend that you harness the power of plants by inviting orchids, spider plants, and succulent plants into your home.