Whether you’ve designated a nook as your home office or have his-and-her office wings in your estate, there’s probably some semblance of a work portal generating a lot of waste in your abode. Here’s a four-part strategy to cut the trash, pollution and wasted resources generated by your home office.
Start trusting technology: print less
Are all those paper files really necessary? If you’re still printing out e-mails and other documents just to be safe, consider developing an effective filing system on your computer and backing up your files regularly. Your documents and the tress will be safe and, as an added bonus, your office will be less cluttered.
A little effort goes a long way: DIY recycling
For those documents you do need to print, do they really need to be on brand new paper? Save some trees and money by keeping your printer loaded with paper that is already printed on one side. When you do need to print something on new paper, you can make the change for just that document.
With a little research you can also refill and/or recycle your printer’s ink cartridges. Refilling is the greenest option. You can refill a cartridge five to seven times before you’ll need to recycle the cartridge and get a new one. However, some printers do not recognize refilled cartridges, so test this before you start refilling all your cartridges at once.
When you are ready to recycle, visit earth911 to find the best options near you. These may include stores like Walgreens or office supply stores, along with the US Post Office, which now offers a mail-back program to reduce e-waste going to the landfills. Also check with the cartridge manufacturer: HP lets you return cartridges by mail or to Staples stores for recycling. Lexmark offers added incentives with two free cartridges when you buy five and return five empty ones.
Give a hoot…
Some of the waste produced in your office isn’t going to the landfill but into your airways. Office supplies such as ink cartridges, non-water-based permanent marker, adhesives, correction fluid and some craft supplies release toxins into the air you’re breathing. Keep these products stored in a closed cabinet and look for less toxic replacements when you run out.
Another waste stream generated by your office is most noticeable in your energy bill. If you’re in the market, you can research Energy Star-rated computers, printers, copiers, monitors and more here. Otherwise, be sure to turn off your electronics when you’re not using them.
When it’s time to replace your electronic office equipment, you can do so responsibly. The heavy metals and other materials they contain are hazardous waste and should not be dumped in the landfill. First check with the manufacturer to see if they have a take-back program. Or go to earth911 to find e-waste options in your area.
By taking these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a waste-free home office and you’ll save some money in the process!
Kimberly Delaney is the author of Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, published by the Knack imprint of Globe Pequot Press.