Today, more than 78 per cent of Australian households have a computer. Whether you're running a business from a dedicated room in your home or simply have a corner of the kitchen where you pay bills online, it's worth assessing how green your home office is.
Start by thinking about energy efficiency and power consumption. There are all manner of gadgets on the market to help conserve power. The Ecobutton, for example, plugs into a USB port and lets you activate your computer's most economical sleep mode with one tap. Jackson's Green Saver powerboard automatically switches off anything else that's plugged into it, from the printer to a desk lamp, as soon as you shut down your computer, so these devices are not left running in standby mode.
Another important aspect of maintaining an eco-friendly home office is recycling, says Heather Lesley, founder of Eco Office Supplies. “An under-desk recycling bin makes it easy to separate waste paper,” she suggests. “And don't forget that recycling also extends to printer cartridges. Planet Ark's website has a list of places that accept used cartridges for recycling.”
The home office is a logical place to start “closing the loop”, says Lesley. This means helping to create a demand for products that use recycled materials. According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, replacing 100 reams of virgin paper with 100 per-cent recycled paper will save almost 3.3 trees, 0.7 barrels of oil and 1025kWh of electricity.
If you run an online business, look into green webhosting. This is a web-services provider that is carbon-neutral, offers carbon offsets to your business or demonstrates other environmentally responsible practices. Find out more at www.greenwebhost.com.au.
Melbourne interior designer Camilla Molders works from an eco-friendly home office. “When I was setting it up, I switched to a GreenPower energy account, invested in energy-efficient task lighting and gave some old filing cabinets a new lease of life with a coat of paint,” she says. “I also recommend using a non-toxic, low-VOC paint on the walls. The more environmentally friendly you make a space, the more inspiring it is to work from.”