So you’re working at home – good for you! Whether it’s because you’re an entrepreneur, telecommuting, or just catching up on work from the office, you are part of a growing trend. This means you’ll be spending quality time at home with your laptop and other gadgets. The good news is you’re not spending time on the road, contributing to the pollution (and inhaling it!). Even better news: you can control your work environment and make it healthier so you can make work even more enjoyable. Here are some ideas — I’m sure you’ve heard many of them before, and now it’s time to implement them!:
- Recycle paper (and use recycled paper!): For every ton of paper that is recycled, we save 17 trees, 42,000kwh of electricity, 26,000 of water and about 27kgs of air pollutants. That’s a lot of good we can do by throwing the paper in one bin versus another. Keep a scrap box for paper that still has one blank side, and use it for photocopies, printouts or faxes (thermal paper is a no no). Use the double-sided print feature on your printer, and the print preview function on your computer. And of course, purchase chlorine-free, 100% recycled paper.
- Reuse supplies: Reusing not only applies to paper, but also to binders, envelopes, refill pens, tape dispensers, and files. You can reuse most of these items multiple times, and the next go-round, buy supplies with recycled content.
- Be energy efficient! Shut down your computer — it it will take less energy to reboot it than to set it to sleep mode. Turn off and unplug any electronics that are not in use. Even when electronics are off, they are still consuming electricity (see the Energy Suckers blog entry). Also, turn off the lights when you’re not in the room and, of course, replace incandescent lights with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights).
- Purchase Energy Star electronics: Using energy-efficient equipment saves money, up to $180 per 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy and can cut the electricity bill by up to 80%. When you eventually replace your products, invest in an Energy Star laptop, printer, fax or copier. In addition, electronics emit EMFs, which may be harmful to your health, so keep at a good distance whenever possible (that also translates to take a break from your computer!).
All in all, steer clear of materials that are toxic, heavily packaged, not recycled, or not recyclable. And, as always, abide by the recycling mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle!