As a society, we are becoming increasingly eco-conscious. Since the outbreak of covid-19, studies have shown more of us are seeking out sustainable products. A report by Accenture showed a third of people now put sustainability in their top three priorities when choosing to buy. One of the advantages that seemed to arise from increased remote working was the positive environmental impact. We saw fewer cars on the roads, city smogs dissipate, and a focus on buying local as our world’s shrank.
As we discuss in this article on being more sustainable when working from home, there are still lots of areas we can work on to improve our carbon footprint. Choosing sustainable products to use at home is a good start in reducing our environmental impact.
Energy-saving lightbulbs aside, these products are items that are useful for homeworkers but are equally good for anybody looking to make more sustainable or ethical purchases.
A more sustainable home office
One of the downsides to working from home is having to foot the bills in winter when you’re trying to stay warm but keep costs down.
There are products on the market to help you work from home without automatically turning up the central heating. From foot and hand warmers to under rug heaters. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips to be found here on keeping warm. To help reduce heating and be a little more sustainable, we also included ways to save money and energy here.
Make sure you are using the most energy efficient lightbulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust you can cut your carbon emissions by 40kg a year by changing all your bulbs to LED. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) also save you money and energy but LEDs are now more common and adaptable.
Talking of rugs, they are a great way to add a little extra warmth to a room. If you are working in a shared living space, they are also good at zoning off your area to help you visually define your workspace.
There are lots of ethically-made textiles and homewares now. Rugs such as those by Weaver Green are made using recycled plastic bottles – helping keep plastic out of landfill and creating a beautiful soft rug in the process.
The greenest way is to not print at all of course, but when you need to, using an eco-friendly printer and inks are the next best thing. A change we made at home was to buy recycled or remanufactured ink cartridges for the printer. These are readily available online and can save you money as well as reduce your environmental impact.
Using refurbished, and refilled ink cartridges is one way to cut down on the plastic by reusing old ink catridges.
You can find brands such as Cartridge World and INKredible who offer compatible ink cartridges. INKredible also commit to recycling all their cartridges in line with a zero waste recycling policy.
Vegetable-based inks are the more eco-friendly option as are printers with refillable tanks so you can avoid ink cartridges altogether.
And don’t forget the desk itself. In our previous desk roundup, there are options that are made to last, recyclable, and even made from cardboard!
Sustainable work (from home) wear
Whether you go for comfort over corporate with your work from home wardrobe, you can add to your eco credentials by opting for sustainable clothing.
While we don’t necessarily recommend working in pyjamas, working from home does give you some flexibility with your clothing choices.
Bamboo clothing is quite easy to find now. Not only is it breathable and comfortable, it is better for the planet too.
As well as bamboo, hemp is known to be one of the more sustainable options and some brands may use materials like recycled polyester.
While it is mostly associated with loungewear or underwear, some ethical brands now do ranges of clothing to include your whole wardrobe that will take you from bed to desk to after work. One brand we love is Thought Clothing.
Of course, a great way to buy more sustainable products is by upcyling and mending your clothes and buying second hand from charity and vintage shops. If you were never one for conservative or traditional office wear, you’ll be able to indulge your quirkier tastes when you work from home!
Being green with household chores
You’ll often hear people say to ignore the housework when you work from home.
This is true when you use it is a distraction or it becomes a way of procrastinating.
However, using the time between tasks to do a quick chore is a great way to shift focus and take a screen break. It also means you sweep up some of those household tasks in your day so you aren’t cleaning and tidying when you’ve finished work.
Hanging washing, loading a dishwasher, putting on some laundry are all useful ten-minute tasks that can break you out of work mode. Housework often involves moving and some light exercise, which is ideal as part of a desk break.
A sustainable product we’ve come to love is Earth Breeze laundry sheets. These take up hardly any room, and require no plastic bottles. They also have biodegradable and recyclable packaging and contain no phosphates, parabens, chlorine dyes, and bleaches.
If you’re looking to help save space, time, and the planet, each Earth Breeze sheet has the correct amount of detergent for a load and they come packaged in a slim recyclable packet.
*I’ve actually become an affiliate of theirs because they have revolutionised the laundry! (So with this affiliate link you can get 40% off when you buy!)
Eco-friendly kitchen wrap
The kitchen is another place I look to cut back on plastic waste.
When it comes to WFH lunches and snacks, leftovers are often a great way to save food and money. But when it comes to storing and saving food, clingfilm is banned from our house. I try to use a vegan wrap or beeswax coverings. There are lots you can find and many are produced by small businesses too. Initially it is more expensive but each piece is washable and re-useable. It’s sturdy and it looks prettier – what’s not to love?!
Sustainable desk essentials
I don’t know many homeworkers who don’t love their stationery, planners, and notebooks. There are lots of sustainable options now which use recycled paper and materials such as bamboo.
Recycled can still look good.
You can find an array of pretty and practical notebooks and desk pads that are made out of recycled paper.
There are even pencils made from recycled plastic from old CD cases. Buying sustainable products for your desk can mean exciting discoveries on sites such as Etsy. There are lots of options now, including ranges from more mainstream retailers. We discovered some great finds from Green Tulip and files and pencil holders from Locker Days made from 100% recycled materials.
Bamboo desk items
The Green Stationery Company have a range of bamboo desk items from desk caddies and pots to even a computer keyboard and mouse. They even make their plastic items from recycled plastic so you know it’s been taken away from landfill.
You can find out more about them here.
Buying sustainable products needn’t be hugely expensive or difficult. It requires a little more consciousness about our buying habits and perhaps moving away from our default practices to doing a little more research.
When you work from home, you have more control over what you buy. We also have more responsibility for making our homes and workspaces more sustainable.
About the author
Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.