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I’m very pleased to announce that in addition to my home office, my website is now bullfrogpowered® with 100% green electricity thanks to Ethical Host. It’s just one of many ways I walk the talk. To help you make a difference at work, here are nine tips to make your home office more earth-friendly.*
1. Use a chalkboard for ideas, to-dos and notes instead of paper. I like having my to-do list or projects list in front of my face, but I grew tired of managing scrap paper and rewriting notes when they got messy. I also wanted some motivational quotes nearby that I could change at will. Paint a chalkboard wall or board with VOC-free latex paint — available from Benjamin Moore in any colour — and use real chalk, not chalk pens. Wipe it off with an old sponge or a rag, rather than paper towels. Chalkboards are great for being non-committal. Get different colours of chalk to colour-code projects on a hand-made calendar, which could be a temporary or permanent feature.
2. Bullfrogpower your pad (if you know how much energy you use) and use energy-efficient lighting (LEDs or compact fluorescents). My monthly Bullfrogpower fee is less than $2, or about 10% of my electricity bill, but all of us together really adds up to a big positive impact! If you can, position your desk to take advantage of natural light. If you can see out a window, even better, so your eyes can get a break.
3. Shut your computer down at the end of the day. If you use a Mac, there’s no excuses now: it will reopen everything you were working on. You can also set your Mac to shut down at a certain time. Better yet, have a power bar you can turn off so you’re not using phantom power. (I love that name. It’s also a Tragically Hip record.) For the same reason, be sure to unplug laptop charging cables when not in use. Also set your desktop or laptop display to turn off sooner, and the hard drive to sleep sooner.
4. Choose tools and supplies that are used, made from recycled products, or recyclable. Think beyond paper and batteries to computers, pens, printer ink/toner, packaging, lighting and furniture. In BC, any hard plastic is now accepted in recycling bins, so don’t be afraid to take stuff apart to recycle instead of tossing it out. Recycle your stuff at Pacific Mobile Depot (Metro Vancouver and Victoria) and Return-It depots that accept electronics, or donate unwanted but usable things to a local charity or school. In the case of electronics, look up ReuseTechBC and Free Geek.
5. Plants help clean indoor air of contaminants like formaldehyde and benzene. And here you thought they just looked nice and made good pets! (Kidding about the pets.) If you have an office dog or cat, mind that some plants, like dieffenbachia (dumbcane) and pothos, are toxic to your furry friends.
6. Use a binchotan charcoal stick to filter water (available at The Soap Dispensary). This will save both money and plastic versus Brita filters (charcoal in tons of plastic) or bottled water.
7. Choose green web hosts and cloud-based services that use renewable energy (like solar and wind power), and/or offset their energy use with services like Bullfrogpower.
8. Buy local! Choose local suppliers, partners and services. Not only is this great for the local economy ($46 of every $100 spent at a local business re-circulates in the local economy), but will also reduce emissions associated with shipping. If you’re really savvy, order from suppliers that partner with Shift Delivery, who’ll get you your goods via bicycle. Sweet!
9. Last but not least: Go for a walk in nature either before work or on your lunch break. It will help clear your mind and boost productivity and mood. Check out the 30×30 Challenge for more info.
Are you already doing some of these? Nice job! Pat yourself on the back, and share what you’re doing with your friends who work from home.
Do you have a tip to share? Tweet to @erikarathje
*You can totally do these at a regular office, too!