Over recent years, sustainability has been prioritized and placed at the forefront of many industries and individual lifestyles across the globe. Veganism is on the rise, our cars are going electric, sustainable fashion is all the rage on the international runways, and products made of recycled materials are more readily available and in demand. Sustainability and sustainable practices have made their way into our everyday lives at home, and with so many of us working remotely, it comes as no surprise that the Green Home Office is on the rise.
What is a green home office?
In a nutshell, a green home office is a home office setup whose interior design and operations reduces or eliminates NEGATIVE impacts, and instead holds the capability to create POSITIVE impacts on our climate and natural environment. The green home office preserves our precious natural resources and contributes to improving our overall quality of life. There are a number of possible features that classify a home office as ‘Green’. These include:
- Efficient use of energy, water, and other resources
- Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy
- Pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling
- Good indoor environmental air quality
- Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical, and sustainable
- Consideration of the environment in design, construction, and operation
- Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction, and operation
- A design that enables adaptation to a changing environment
Any home office can be transformed to include many of the above features through some simple steps and practices. But remember not to stress yourself out too much about adhering to these ‘rules’. Longevity in sustainability is all about doing the best that you can, taking the time to learn, and improving your practices day by day.
Fifty shades of green
Of course when planning the perfect green home office, think about the COLOR green itself! There are a number of reasons to include a healthy dose of plant life, including your actual health. We spend so much of the working day indoors and poor air quality within your home office can be really detrimental to your health. Asthmatics and those that suffer from dust allergies would do well to look into purchasing plants for the home office.
Introducing plants into the space improves the air quality by filtering and reducing toxins found in the air such as Benzene, Formaldehyde, Carbon Monoxide, and Trichloroethylene, and distributes clean oxygen for you to breathe. Delightful aromatherapy benefits can also be enjoyed through many floral plant varieties. Plants help to BOOST our mood by lowering our blood pressure, energize the mind, and may even promote deeper, more rejuvenating sleeping patterns. Many scientific studies have even shown that plants are especially beneficial for those who are ill, greatly assisting in lowering stress levels among long-term patients.
Browsing through Pinterest home office inspiration boards, complete with perfectly lush jungles of well manicured indoor plants, will leave anyone green with envy. But the hardest question of them all is, How can I decorate my own home office with plants? Experts make it look easy enough, but sometimes putting an idea into practice ends up being way more challenging than first expected, or completely the wrong idea for your space to begin with! Whether you’re a natural green thumb, or you can’t tell the difference between a succulent and a pesky weed, here are four simple ideas to consider when decorating your home office with plants.
Succulents and Cacti
Not all of us are blessed with the greenest of thumbs. Caring for indoor plants can be tricky, and depending on the type of plant, the climate that you live in, and how much spare time you have to devote to the process, some plants can be much, MUCH harder than others to keep alive and green. If your plant collection keeps dying on you, consider cacti or succulent plants for your home office. These hardy plants are well-suited to rough environments that would otherwise be less than hospitable to other plant types. Cacti and succulents need only a little water and sunlight, and are very low maintenance which makes them really easy to care for. In addition to their strength and longevity, these plants also have a distinct, minimal look that works well within any modern home office design thanks to their clean, linear shapes.
Remember, green isn’t the only color that’s available to you when it comes to searching for indoor plants. Many blooming plants provide added aromatherapy benefits and also gives your home office that extra pop of cheeky color. Orchids are a popular choice because of their dramatic sculptural blooms and wide color range to suit any design palate. From vivid purples and canary lemon yellows, to neutral cream and pastel peach, there’s an orchid to match any personality. With good care orchids can last quite a long time and are a perfect choice of plant to display on top of your work desk.
One of the best things about plants is their versatility. They can be small enough to accent a tiny desk or small, open shelving, or they can be large enough to make a statement and command the entire room. If you have a home office that has too little green and too much empty space, a floor plant can be just the right solution. If you have an empty corner, and the space just doesn’t feel complete, consider a floor plant as the missing ingredient that completes the room and adds a new sense of freshness. There are a few things to consider before purchasing a floor plant for your home office.
First, make sure there is enough natural light within your home office. Moving your large scale floor plants on a regular basis to ensure that they get enough sun can be a literal pain. Wherever you position your floor plant ensure that it gets enough natural light throughout the day. Also, make sure the size and scale of the plant makes sense in your home office space. A floor plant that touches the ceiling, while the rest of your furniture is low to ground may feel like it is consuming the space, so consider a 6’ or 7’ plant for most residential spaces. If your home office is more of a loft style, or if you have cathedral style ceilings you might want to consider a taller floor plant. Or if you’re in a small apartment, consider floor plants that sit low to ground that come in at around 2 or 3 feet tall. These plants are a great alternative, and are a lot easier on your wallet as well.
Find Your Light
Lighting is the most important thing to consider when choosing the right plant for your home office. Below is a helpful list of low-maintenance plants divided by lighting requirements …
For home offices that have low levels of natural light.
- Zebra Plant (Haworthia Fasciata) — This succulent doesn’t need much natural light to thrive and only needs to be watered roughly every two weeks. Its compact size makes for the perfect desk top plant.
- Echeveria — Echeverias are among the most common and popular succulents. Only some varieties of Echeverias do really well in environments with low natural light, so make sure you select the correct varietal for your low lit home office. Like the majority of succulents, Echeverias need very little watering and its compact size makes for the perfect desk top plant.
- English Ivy (Hedera Helix) — This trailing plant is highly decorative thanks to its ornate two-tone foliage, and thrives in low natural light environments. It does require to dry out thoroughly between waterings so avoid over watering.
- Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) — This plant does exceptionally well with just a small amount of soil, needs only a little natural light, and requires little moisture around its roots. Staghorn ferns are known for their unique pronged leaves that are wildly angular and make a visual statement.
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata) — This is a relatively large plant that thrives in all lighting conditions. It does require to dry out thoroughly between waterings so avoid over watering. Snake plants are well known for their terrific air purifying qualities.
- ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas) — If you buy this plant in a smaller size be warned, the ZZ plant grows fast! This plant requires very little light so even if your home office has no windows, your plant should be fine. ZZ plants do require regular watering, but otherwise are very easy to care for.
For home offices that have plenty of natural light all day long.
- Living Stone (Lithops) — This cute little succulent thrives in full sunlight and requires minimal watering. The unique geometric baubly stems, and its compact size makes the Living Stone plant a hugely popular and attractive option to display on your office desk top.
- String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus) — This trailing succulent is a truly unique and charming plant. It loves the sun and can easily survive lots of direct sunlight with very little water. They usually only need to be watered every two to three weeks, and just once a month during winter. The true fantasy and drama of this plant can be enjoyed when utilized as a hanging plant hung from the ceiling, perched on a high shelf or window sill, or beautifully draped at the edge of your work desk.
- Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata) — Depending on the size of your pot, this plant can grow into a full sized tree! Super easy to care for, just keep in mind that Fiddle Leaf Fig plants like to be positioned beside large windows with lots of bright light. They DO NOT enjoy being moved around! Water only once a week or less, depending on the environment of your home office.
- Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica) — This popular indoor plant ranges from small to medium size. Rubber plants grow quite fast and require plenty of bright light. Rubber plants need to dry out thoroughly between waterings so avoid over watering.
5 ways to make your office more eco-friendly
Want to have a more sustainable home office? Here are some green home office ideas to get you started towards making your home office more environmentally friendly, which not only helps mother Earth, but saves your own personal time, money, and energy.
REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION
The amount of power your office uses directly contributes to the health of the environment. If your workplace is a crazy power guzzler, it will produce and release greater amounts of toxic fossil fuels into the Earth’s atmosphere.
During lunch and coffee breaks, when you need to dash out to buy groceries or attend an external meeting, and at the end of the working day, remember to turn off all computers, printers, desk lamps, and any other equipment that doesn’t need to be left on. Even though many of us like our displays crispy and bright, try getting into the habit of using your laptops and monitors set at their most energy efficient setting. Dimming that display is less strenuous on your eyesight and less damaging to the skin on our face (We ain’t getting any younger honey!).
A couple of very basic steps which everyone should apply to all aspects of their home lives, whenever you leave your home office for more than a few minutes SWITCH OFF THE LIGHTS. And use energy efficient LED fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent ones, your wallet will thank you for it! LED lights are known to be 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs and will last a lot longer too. If you’re lucky enough to have a home office that is full of natural light, take advantage of it and don’t use artificial light at all. Many of us don’t have that luxury and working in natural light is great for your mental frame of mind.
If you’re looking to equip your home office with an AC unit or air purifier, and for any other electrical tools and appliances for your home office, try to shop around for the most energy efficient options available to you.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, REFUSE
This mantra means more than just throwing used paper packaging into the recycle bin. Really think about everything you use throughout the working day and ALL of your equipment and tools within the home office.
- Reduce: Do you really need disposable cups and straws at home? Are you drinking out of a single use plastic water bottle? Single use items are one of the biggest contributors to global waste.
- Reuse: Can you use the other side of used sheets of paper instead of throwing them into the recycle bin? Have a paper storage container that is easy to access. Unless they are important documents that require shredding or other methods of disposal, toss old papers into your designated storage container. That way the paper can either be used for printing on again, or writing down notes rather than going into the garbage.
- Recycle: One of the easiest steps your office can take to being more environmentally friendly is by recycling. Many materials commonly used at the workplace can go into the recycling bin rather than the trash. Even electronics that you don’t use anymore can get recycled or repurposed. And a sealed compost container in your kitchen is a great eco-friendly solution for food scraps.
- Refuse: Simply put, don’t buy stuff you don’t need. When you do make a necessary purchase, bring your own shopping bags where possible instead of the usual store supplied plastic bags.
AIM FOR A PAPERLESS OFFICE
A paperless home office is more achievable than you might think. In this digital age printed material is becoming less of a necessity. Read on-screen wherever possibly and only print documents when absolutely necessary. If you really do need paper, make sure to use only 100% recycled content paper products in your home office, and if your work requires professionally produced material, ask your professional printer for FSC Certified paper.
USE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY OFFICE PRODUCTS
People are becoming more aware of what certain chemicals do, not just to our health, but to the health of the environment. Nowadays, to meet this conscious demand, you can find an environmentally friendly version of almost any product on the market.
On average, environmentally friendly office supplies only cost about 5% more, which is a small price to pay to cut down on harmful waste and pollution. When printing documents use 100% recycled paper and use refillable ink cartridges. When buying stationary, opt for those made from recycled materials, and make sure that you select ethical, non-toxic, cruelty free highlighters, markers, and the like.
Eco-conscious choices should also extend to your office cleaning products. With global interest in sustainable practice on the rise, there are now plenty of environmentally friendly cleaning products at your local supermarket to choose from. From floor disinfectants and glass window cleaners, to hand sanitizers and room deodorizing sprays. If you’re currently using an external cleaning service to keep your home office in check, encourage them to use environmentally friendly products, or switch over to another cleaning service that does.
MAKE ECO-FRIENDLY FOOD CHOICES
Every healthy office environment provides an adequate lunch break and when it comes to being green it’s just as important to make conscious choices when it comes to food. Support local businesses and buy local produce wherever possible to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation and imported goods. For high consumption food items within your home office pantry, such as tea, coffee, creamer, etc, be sure to keep things fair trade and organic to help lessen the demand for all those nasty chemicals, pesticides, and genetic modifications. Every now and then consider eating vegetarian or vegan meals for lunch. Or why not try to make it part of your everyday lifestyle? Cutting down on meat can have a huge impact on the health of the planet.