The home office is almost always an afterthought in home planning. It usually starts out rather minimalist, with a chair, a desk, and maybe a computer and printer. But, as anyone who has spent the past 18 months or so working from home knows, things almost never stay as clean or organized as when you start out. Over time, papers tend to pile up, pens that have long-since run dry get put back into desk drawers, and organization goes out the window.
Keeping your home office organized can feel like a full-time job in and of itself, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on for some tips on how to keep your home office organized, efficient, and above all, eco-friendly.
Make Home Office Printing More Eco-Friendly
Managing paper clutter can be one of the most challenging parts of working from home. From keeping paper documents organized to the waste created by printer cartridges, there are things you can do to manage your environmental footprint when it comes to printing out documents.
First, when investing in a printer, look for one that allows you to refill printer ink. Supertank or ink-tank printers are a great way to manage environmental waste while also lowering your cost-per-page of printing. Ink-tank printers do away with wasteful cartridges, instead allowing you to refill ink reservoirs yourself. A single refill bottle can do the work of up to 30 ink cartridges, reducing the plastic waste associated with printing while also reducing your cost per page. While these printers can be a bit pricier than their cartridge-based counterparts, that extra cost is quickly made up in cheaper per-page cost, particularly if you print a lot of documents.
If there are specific documents, reference guides, or handbooks that you need to print out and refer to often, invest in binders. Clearly labeling these documents and storing them on a bookshelf can reduce the need to reprint documents that may get lost in desk clutter, and they can help your office feel more organized and brighter.
Better yet, consider an e-ink tablet, which allows you to pull up commonly referenced documents at the touch of a button, and to avoid the eye strain that can often come with reading documents on a screen. Many even allow you to take handwritten notes on documents, preserving important annotations you may need to refer back to frequently.
Think About Energy Efficiency
Like with printing, building an energy efficient home office has the double benefit of saving money while reducing your environmental footprint.
If you can, start by embracing natural light. Locating your desk near a window area that gets lots of sunlight has a number of benefits. In addition to reducing your reliance on electric lighting, natural light can serve as a natural mood boost. Strategically placed mirrors can help to amplify and enhance natural light, particularly in the cooler winter months. If natural light isn’t an option, energy-efficient LED bulbs can mimic sunlight while reducing energy consumption.
Smart power strips and outlets are another great way to improve energy efficiency in your home office. Many of us leave our laptops, phones, printers, and other electronic devices plugged in, even when they are fully charged. These devices continue to draw power, even though they’re not in use, often wasting substantial amounts of energy. Rather than individually unplugging everything at the end of every workday, consider a smart power strip. A smart power strip detects when a device is not in use and cuts off the power to that device automatically. Some are even programmable – for example, you can set a smart power strip to cut off power to everything plugged into it when you turn off your desk lamp for the evening.
In the colder winter months, think about energy loss. If you’re still working after the sun goes down, hang some heavy drapes over office windows to minimize heat loss and reduce the load on your home’s heating system. Thermal insulated curtains can reduce your home’s energy loss by up to 25% in the winter — preventing that loss can mean substantial cost savings on home heating bills.
Focus On Sustainable Home Office Furniture
When furnishing your home office, consider sustainably and responsibly produced products such as desks made from renewable products like birch and bamboo, or seating made from recycled or reforested wood. Even better, consider second-hand products, especially gently-used desks, bookshelves, and storage cabinets. Reusing previously-owned furniture pieces can reduce your office’s carbon footprint, allow you to afford higher-quality pieces, and allow you to create a totally unique, creative space for work or school.
Making your office space a pleasant, calming space can pay dividends for you and the environment. Houseplants don’t just make your space feel inviting, they’re natural air scrubbers, clearing dust and allergens out of the air you’re breathing. Essential oils can improve your mood while keeping pesky spiders and mosquitoes at bay.
Keeping your space organized and clutter free can not only help with productivity at work, it can make your home office more eco-friendly as well. Organizing your documents with a thorough and color-coded filing system ensures that you won’t have to reprint documents that have been lost. Keeping your office accessories like pens, post-it notes, and notebooks organized in designated spaces in your desk drawers can keep them out of your way, while ensuring you can find what you need, when you need it. Keep a recycling bin next to your office wastebasket so there’s no temptation to mix your recycling in with your regular trash, even when you’re busy.
Sweeping Dimensions: A Cleaning With a Conscience
Questions about eco-friendly ways to take your home office to the next level? Here at Sweeping Dimensions, we focus on handling all sorts of cleaning and housekeeping projects, so you can focus on the other things that matter most to you.
A big part of that is making sure our clients’ wants and needs are met at all times. That’s why we make a point of always having sustainable and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions on hand and ready to use.
We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We love to talk about all things cleaning and organizing, including the strategies that can make taking care of your home a more sustainable practice. The more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off all of us will be!
So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, or making a green switch in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch – I am always happy to talk shop! At SDCS, we are sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Want to set up a green cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your FREE service estimate!
Looking to exchange ideas on reusable alternatives to sponges, or share how you’re going to focus on sustainability this year? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via email or on social media to let us know your thoughts.