Today is National Organize Your Home Office Day. I’m among the more than 18 million Americans who work at home (don’t ask me what I’m wearing or whether I’ve showered today), and I could use a little help in this area. While I would love to build a home office on a grand scale, like my friend David Johnston’s, I’m simply looking forward to having an actual room—with a door to close—after working in my dining room for far too long.
As I prepare my new home office, I’m closely following Kim Wallace’s excellent advice, published in Natural Home, for making it healthy, organized and light on the planet.
1. Phase out paper.Sign up for e-billing with credit and utility companies, and register for online banking to eliminate paper statements. Google’s Gmail offers a color-coded labeling system that makes it easy to organize monthly e-bills.
2. Perfect your printing.
Keep printing to a minimum. When it’s unavoidable, decrease margin sizes and use both sides of the paper. Salvage sheets with errors for scrap paper. Many suppliers carry 100 percent recycled, Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper. Wood alternatives such as hemp or organic cotton papers are also available.
Refill used printing cartridges instead of buying new (saving money and packaging), and print in black-and-white draft mode, which uses less ink per page. Print Recovery Concepts carries SoyPrint laser printer cartridges.
3. See the light.
People who work in daylight experience an increase in general well-being and productivity, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory report., The evidence is so compelling that many European companies require all employees’ work stations be within 27 feet of a window. Set up your workstation adjacent to windows to avoid glare. Keep flowers or other plants near the window.
4. Power down.
Even in standby mode, printers, scanners, fax machines, computers and shredders could draw up to 40 watts of power, according to Energy Star. Plug all office electronics into a surge protector so you can disconnect them from the power source with a flip of a switch at day’s end.
Also, consider reducing the amount of equipment you have. Try an all-in-one print/copy/fax machine. Laptop computers use less energy. Always buy Energy Star-rated equipment and program computers to hibernate after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity. For higher savings, set monitors to enter sleep mode after five to 20 minutes. Graphics-heavy screensavers waste power by preventing your computer from entering full sleep mode.
5. Ban the books.
It can be difficult to part ways with your favorite books, but with the wealth of reliable information on the Internet, you can easily trim down your literature collection. (I just did this. It was painful, but I feel like a new woman, and I’m so relieved that I won’t have to categorize and re-shelve those books ever again!)
From structural insulated panels to engineered wood beams and flooring, David Johnston’s home office showcases the best of what’s working in nontoxic and resource-efficient building products. Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison