Tips for making your lifestyle eco friendly
You don’t know how it happened. Just more and more you find yourself being environmentally conscious. It drives you nuts to see someone leave some trash at the park, or flick a cigarette butt out the window while driving in the car. You’re not about to become an eco-vigilante but you want to do more than simply practice what you preach. You want to set an example! And like any good idea, this one starts as home.
When you’re not sleeping, where do you spend most of your at-home time? Do you have a home office? If you have a choice between working at home or driving to work every day, the best environmental choice may seem like a no brainer. But the truth is there are many variables to consider.
“Telecommuting” is a powerful new policy that keeps employees at home and reduces carbon from their cars that would otherwise spew into the air. Imagine how much pollution is caused by cars on their daily commutes to work. Doing what we can to limit the traffic can have a positive impact on curbing pollution. But what about potentially green offences from your home office? You still use energy and consume goods there. Be mindful to reduce, reuse and recycle to maintain a low environmental consequence.
It’s interesting to note that even if you telecommute you may actually consume more energy than if you were to drive into work. For instance, if you’re the only one home and you are heating or cooling your environment – maybe an entire house – your utility bill will remind you that you that this financial issue wasn’t a problem when you went to work at the office.
You may use a room heater or fan to lessen the amount of energy used. If you use central air you can close off the vents to bedrooms and other unused areas while you’re home. If it’s cold lower the heat and put on a sweater. Consider a time setting for your thermostat. Streamline your energy usage, you will conserve and save!
During the hot weather keep your central AC at a high temperature setting and complement that with a portable fan in whatever room you choose to reside in. Pull the shades down, especially in the afternoon this will help keep your home office cooler. The bottom line is to cool only the areas that you are using. Window screens are helpful, fully open the window and enjoy the cool breeze from outside when permissible.
“Don’t forget to turn out the lights” you’ve heard it since you were a child. It was a good habit to learn and now you can take it a little further. If you are working in your home office, make sure the lights are off in the rest of the home. Use natural window lighting for as long as daytime permits. Instead of incandescent bulbs use LED or CFL lighting, they are far more energy efficient. Furthermore, forgo whole room lighting in favor of task lighting when possible.
Of course you want to apply the same philosophy to all electrical equipment in your home. At the end of your at-home ‘work shift’ be certain to shut down your office equipment such as computers, printers and anything else that plugs into a wall. Did you know that equipment will still suck energy while is off? That why it’s a good idea to have everything plugged into a power strip, so you can shut it all off when not in use.
Always do a little legwork before shopping for your office necessities and see what is available that is environmentally responsible. They are be labeled accordingly, so it’s easy to see what you’re buying. Avoid plastic whenever you can, go with metal or wood or even bamboo when applicable. Check for the Energy Star rating (it’s not only on appliances). And look for recycled paper and cleaning products that are Earth friendly.
You may already shop for second-hand products, it’s an easy and fun habit to get into. You know by now that it’s just not cheap buying better ecofriendly brands, so compensate – buy used stuff instead. Check out thrift stores for your office furniture. There are plenty of deals. When big offices replace their furniture they often donate the old stuff. Of course you should already be making maximum use of all your furniture currently at home. Throw a new coat of paint on your old desk and work it back into the scheme of things. Make all of your unused furniture relevant again!
Of course you want to do all you can to reduce paper use. Go paperless! There’s little reason to keep hardcopies of everything any more. You can scan your papers, back them up and recycle the originals. If printing is necessary, do it double sided. Print on the back of old documents if possible. Just put an ‘X’ over the unusable side.
Lastly, don’t just toss your old office equipment when you get newer models. It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer, printer, cell phone, whatever, always recycle your electronics. You can sell your stuff in a garage sale or online, or donate it to a nonprofit (you will be eligible to take a tax deduction). Most importantly properly recycle your printer ink cartridges – you can even get cash for them!