30 per cent. That’s the estimate for the proportion of people still working from home following the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a ‘work-from-home’ team at Household Wonders, we want to share 5 steps for creating your own eco-friendly home office to help you save money (particularly given rising living costs), reduce waste and make conscious decisions for a happier and healthier planet!
If you have already started your eco-friendly home office journey, join in at the step that best suits you. I’ve made it easy for you to navigate below:
Step 1: Create a eco-friendly home office shopping list
As simple as this sounds, creating a list is one of the best ways to reduce the waste generated by unnecessary purchases. It allows you to really think about WHAT you need and WHY.
A home office is very different to your traditional commercial office. Do you really need a pen in every colour when you primarily use your computer for work?
The key concept behind this step is the four R’s:
There is no need to throw away perfectly good items in your home office to replace them with more sustainable brands. Use what you have and DIY items to make them fit-for-purpose. If you do find yourself in need of new items, make sure you consider some of our points in the following steps.
Step 2: Carefully choose your eco-friendly office space
Whether you can dedicate a whole room to your home office, or just a small area in your bedroom or living area, natural lighting is the key.
Making the most of natural light will help reduce power use. Countless scientific studies have also demonstrated the importance of natural light for productivity, concentration and good human health.
If you perform most of your work in the afternoon, choose a room on the western side of your home to benefit from the afternoon sunshine. In situations where natural lighting is limited, brighten your office with a fresh paint job. Choose a light coloured, low or no VOCs wall paint, to allow any light in the room (natural or artificial) to be reflected.
Another cool trick to help brighten your office is to strategically place mirrors. They reflect natural light and distribute it more broadly within your office space!
Use energy efficient LED lighting
Regardless of whether you have a home office with good natural lighting or not, every home office needs some form of artificial lighting.
Light-emitting diode, LED lighting, is on the rise in U.S. households and for good reason. Compared to their fluorescent counterparts, LED lights produce the same amount of light with less electricity. Their lifespan is also up to 50 times that of fluorescent bulbs 😱
I personally use and love an adjustable desk lamp. You may however, be happy with LED overhead globes or a floor lamp like the JOOFO Floor Lamp. This lamp is extremely versatile, with the ability to rotate for direct or glare-free lighting. It also comes with a remote to allow you to control the lighting temperature and dimming from the comfort of your desk.
Keep warm and cool with clean technology
Insulation is a great way to reduce energy consumption, providing your home with a warm to cool place depending on the natural heat flow. When combined with other methods, insulation also improves the efficiency of your heating and cooling.
Hemp insulation is a great eco-friendly alternative to polystyrene and polyurethane foam based insulations. It is comprised of 92% hemp and only 8% polyester fibres. Hemp insulation isn’t commonly thrown around – unless of course you’re a house insulation enthusiast! – but has been used since 2018 and upholds industry standard ratings.
In terms of additional heating options, solar heating is the greenest in terms of efficiency. If you’re lucky enough to have solar, you have likely already experienced the benefits of a reduced energy bill. Although the upfront installation costs can be quite high, you’ll be better off in the long run – and so will your back pocket!
A lesser known option is geothermal heating which involves using the earth’s heat under the ground to warm your home. Warning: also expensive!
If you’re seeking a lower cost option, then a pellet stove is the way to go. They use recycled materials, making them more environmentally friendly than your traditional wood stove.
Given that almost 90% of households in America have air-conditioning, it’s likely this may be your main source of cooling. But how badly do you really need it?
I always strive to go without the aircon where I can. If you do have solar power however and can run your aircon without using all your solar energy, I say go for it!
Some other energy saving options include:
- Window shades – Take a look at companies like Earthshade who are striving to be more eco-friendly. Window shades are a great way to reflect heat and keep your office cool (in more ways than one 😉).
- Close the window, draw the curtains and put the fan on.
As much as I want to tell you to fill your office with plants to stay cool (is there really such a thing as too many pot plants?!), there is little to no evidence that inside plants have a detectable influence on the temperature of a room. The process of transpiration does produce moisture, but in your everyday setting it won’t cool your home office. They do look great though 😍
While window tinting can also help reduce heat, most window tinting products are made from plastic-based films, making them a less eco-friendly option.
Step 3: Get green gadgets
When we work from home, we have more control over when and what gadgets we use. Green gadgets are electrical items designed to reduce power usage, such as smart plugs, which allow you to control when your devices are switched on and off.
Have you ever walked away from your computer at the end of the work day and forgotten to turn it off? You can now schedule a turn off time to save money on your energy bill.
Sticking with the theme of automated gadgets, energy saving switches also help reduce unwanted power use. Some options include:
- Dimmer switches
- Motion-activated lights
- Timer controls
Along with aiming to reduce energy usage, you can also choose gadgets made from more recycled materials. The next time one of your device chargers needs replacing, consider switching to an eco-friendly brand such as Nimble or House or Marley.
Given you’re probably reading this as someone who already does or will be working from home, I’m going to assume most of your work can be completed digitally. Good riddance of those hundreds of sheets of loose paper we used to accumulate!
Step 4: Pick furniture with an impact
Okay, so you’re in need of some furniture for your new eco-friendly home office. My first recommendation is to see what options might be available at your local second-hand store. Often those old, second-hand pieces only require a little sanding and oiling and they’re good to go! Esty’s reclaimed furniture is a great place to start.
If second-hand isn’t an option, and you’re not confident with your DIY abilities to upcycle something, then its important to shop around. Ensure the brands you’re looking at have good sustainable principles. Our top picks are Urban Wood Goods and What We Make.
Step 5: Keep up the green routine
So you’ve got the foundations of your eco-friendly home office sorted. Now let’s touch on some other things you can integrate into your work routine to really raise the eco-vibrations.
- Go green when you clean – be sure to clean your eco-friendly home office with natural, non-toxic and plastic-free products.
- Cook for your, or for two – Working from home is a great way to get in to the habitat of bringing your own lunch to work. There is literally no other excuse – the kitchen is less than 10 metres away! Eating your own home prepared food helps to reduce waste associated with takeaway meals.
- Turn your spoil into soil – While I encourage you to try and find a use for foods that are on their way out, those old leftovers and vegetable offcuts can be repurposed into compost for your office pot plants or gardens.
Final Thoughts on How to Create an Eco-Friendly Home Office
Hopefully these eco-friendly home office tips will help you transform your habits, reduce your carbon footprint and save some extra dollars during these challenging times.
As always, I want to remind you that as with everything in life, it’s almost impossible to live 100% sustainably and use products that are 100% sustainable – I’m just keeping it real!
Hopefully these eco-friendly home office tips will help you transform your habits, reduce your carbon footprint and save some extra dollars during these challenging times. Just remember, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!