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How to Be Environmentally Friendly When Working at Home

written by: BStone•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 10/22/2010

How green is your home office? Find out how to be environmentally-friendly working at home with a few simple tips.

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    Green Choices

    working at home Is it more eco-friendly to work at home? No need to commute to work, to purchase packaged food for lunch, or to work in an environment where the most earth-friendly decisions are not a priority — working at home can be an incredibly green experience, if you make the effort. On the other hand, being home all day it is easy to run up the electricity bill and your own personal greenhouse gas emissions if you are not careful. Now that you are in control you have the opportunity to make green decisions that an office environment may not even be able to make. Find out what you can do to be environmentally-friendly while working at home.

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    Computers and Electronics

    One of the biggest concerns with working at home is the energy used by the computer and other electronics. It is so easy and convenient to turn the computer on while your morning coffee is brewing and leave it on until the workday is over. It's probably plugged in the entire day as well. This is an unnecessary use of energy. What can you do to minimize CO2 emissions due to computer use? Turn it off, unplug it, and put it to sleep.

    If you aren't going to use your computer for more than an hour, turn it off. Keep it unplugged as much as possible as well — if the battery is charged, work on battery power. When the day is over and the computer is off for the night, unplug the power cord. Also, keep printers, scanners, radios, and other electronics unplugged. Keep your monitor set on the power saving mode to save energy while it is on.

    When it is time to purchase new electronics for the home office, from computers to printers try to think small and efficient rather than large and powerful. Also, always choose Energy Star rated office electronics. Energy Star office and imaging products use 30 to 75 percent less electricity than standard products.

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    Green Pens and Pencils

    If you work at home that means that you can decide what office supplies are used. Think green everything — post-consumer recycled paper, refillable pens made from sustainable wood, non-toxic inks, water-based markers, recycled notebooks, folders, and organizers. Where to find recycled notebook all of these earth-friendly office supplies? Online sellers, such as The Green Office, Green Earth Office Supply, and Greenline Paper Company, are great resources. Make one large order of everything you will need for several months at a time to save on shipping costs and energy use.

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    More Ways to Be Eco-Friendly While Working at HomeFrom lighting to transportation, what are more ways to be environmentally-friendly while working at home?
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    Recycle — Everything

    Of course recycling is important to live a green lifestyle, but when you are working at home this can be taken to a whole new level. It is time to recycle everything —batteries, electronic equipment, paper, ink cartridges, plastic containers. While at home all day working you are going to produce more waste, so that trip to your local recycling center to drop off what may not be picked up on the curb is well-justified. For your computer and monitor, donate your old model if it is still in workable condition or send it back to the manufacturer to be properly recycled.

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    Make Your Coffee Greener

    french press coffee You can even make your coffee more eco-friendly while working at home. Choose fair trade, organic coffee and tea products. If you love your electronic coffee pot, at least make sure that you turn it off rather than allowing it to remain on for hours. When you unplug your computer for the night, unplug the coffee maker. If you are interested in trying a more sustainable type of coffee, consider trying french press coffee. Nothing is plugged in, there are no paper filters, the coffee is wonderful, and less water is used for a more concentrated brew. When finished with your grounds add them to your compost pile. If you don't have a compost pile save your grounds for your gardening neighbors.

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    Lighting

    Lighting is so important for a green home and a green home office; as much as 25 percent of home energy use is due to lighting. Change out your incandescent bulbs for more eco-friendly options such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). Most of the energy used for incandescent bulbs is wasted in heat energy. CFL's are four times more efficient and last ten times longer. Replacing one bulb will prevent one-half ton of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

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    Energy Awareness

    There are other little things that you can do to make a big difference. Simply be aware of what your habits are and consider how they could be more eco-friendly. For example, when it is time to go out to the post office or to run other errands, walk or take public transportation if possible. Otherwise, try to consolidate your car use into one big errand run for the whole week.

    Since you are home you have the opportunity to cook homemade, organic meals rather than buying packaged food. This is a great way to liver a greener lifestyle, but also to eat healthier.

    Be aware of your heating and cooling needs. Could you open a couple windows instead of turning on the air conditioner? Do you need the heat up that high? There is no reason to be uncomfortable, but as you are in control of energy use through heating and cooling you have the ability to make more efficient decisions than what may be made in an office with a group of people.

    It is truly easy to be environmentally-friendly working at home. Live it up; be as green as you want to be. No one will have a problem with it.

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    References

    Energy Star <http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=ofc_equip.pr_office_equipment>

    Planet Green <http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/find-ecofriendly-office-supplies.html>

    Earth Easy <http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm>

    Planet Green <http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/french-pressed-coffee-cheap.html>

    photo by Eric (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/redspotted/5026679270/>

    photo by Red Spotted (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/redspotted/5026679270/>

    photo by Joel Washing (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelwashing/4964557080/>