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The Green Office(at home)

September 9, 2008

The Office(at home), originally uploaded by .Fabio.


When I (N.) left the military I quickly realized that sales was what I was “qualified” to do. I find that funny since I have never done sales and certainly didn’t have the technical experience I would think would be necessary to sell some of these things but I got numerous second interviews and call backs for these positions. Conversely I never got anywhere with any of the many human resource or management jobs that I applied for. Part of this is due to the fact that the headhunting agency I went tto specialized in sales so they could get me a phone interview instead of just a paper appllication, this goes a long way towards getting a job and shouldn’t be underestimated. The other part is that military personnel are supposedly wildly successful as salesmen… I would imagine that we generally are driven, goal oriented independent workers which would be good qualities for sales.

Anyway, I ended up accepting a sales position with the understanding that it would possibly lead to management (I don’t want to count my chickens before they are hatched though). The job allows me to work at home but requires me to travel about 10 days a month. I’ll deal with green travel on another post but for this one I wanted to address ways I have made my home office green. Many bloggers have discussed going back to school the green way but I don’t have kids so… While this is certainly helpful for people who are able to work at home some of the same principles could be applied to a regular office job.

The picture above is not my office, rather it was my worst fear for working at home. I knew that I would need some private space otherwise I would never concentrate so that was one of the deciding factors for us in choosing our new home. We were lucky to find a two story row home for rent and I was lucky to get a room perfect for use as an office. The owners haven’t made a lot of changes to the structure but they did add a small closet in the odd shaped room I call an office. It’s small for today’s standards but would be a nice nursery or kids room.

Since we didn’t have money to splurge on the office I used what we had and am quite happy with the results. Over the years J. and I have collected more then our fair share of plastic organizing bins of various sizes and uses so two drawers became a perfect place to store paper, software and larger office items while the horizontal realestate on top was used for the printer (we did buy this new). The desk and chair are also new. We actually gave away a table that would have been the perfect size but didn’t know we would need it at the time. I picked a glass top with wood saw horse style supports and a rolly chair. I admit that I wanted something pretty and that a better choice would have been to hit the used furniture stores and restore or revamp something we found there (bad human!). The lamp used to be J. bed side lamp but we have a matched set that we use in our bedroom so it’s perfect here. I also had some decorative stuff from before the wedding (a vase, rug, artwork etc) that is perhaps to “girly” for the rest of the house. Personally I think a white rug with hot pink and bright orange dots can go anywhere but that’s me ;). The last thing I added was a small bookcase from my college days to hold books and some photos.


Although this is primarily my home office we also needed a place to put our home computer and the room while small can certainly fit another small desk/table. While cheap solutions could easily be found at office supply stores (and they are on sale when the school year starts) we wanted to make a “greener” choice. Originally we didn’t think it would fit, but a sofa table that doesn’t fit in the living room works really well. It fits nicely between the wall and bookcase and it just wide enough for our Mac. An old school 20 inch thick monitor probably wouldn’t work unless you really angled it but most screens these days our flat and can fit in narrower spots. I couldn’t use it for work, I need space to spread out papers etc but as a place to surf the internet, do online banking etc it’s great. The narrow space prevents the collection of too much clutter :).

In addition to the furnishing and decorating I wanted to live a green life in my office. It has a ceiling fan and a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight in the middle of the day. The other room I could have used gets to hot in the afternoon. Although I could put a window AC unit in here I haven’t really felt the need. I also get enough light to not need the overhead light and instead use the small desk light with CFL bulb. I buy recycled paper, use both sides and then recycle it again. When I print I use the draft mode with black and white only which saves me on ink. When the cartridges run out I recycle them and get a discount for my next purchase. I use pens and pencils collected from around the house and reuse my paperclips. I don’t use post its although I would probably be more organized if I did. Instead of keeping paper files I store as much as possible digitally. I also send product information to customers digitally instead of mailing it. Occasionally I get new equipment shipped to me in the mail so I save the box and packaging material to for future use or I recycle if I can’t see a future need. My equipment does use batteries but a recharger and reusable batteries are a great option and I expense them.

Obviously I just go downstairs for meals so I’m able to eat local and organic without the added cost of eating out or having to use plastic etc to get my food to and from work. I try to drink at least one litre of water a day and use a Sigg bottle. J. on the other hand prefers his Klean Kanteen. I’m not a big coffee drinker and like all our appliances our coffee maker is only plugged in when in use but when I’m in the mood we only buy fair trade organic.

Working at home also means I clean my own office. We have experimented in making some of our personal care products and eventually want to make our own cleaning products but in the mean time vinegar and baking soda clean just about anything. I have hardwood floors throughout the house and we use the method mop (reusable cloth) and wood care soap. It works well, adds a nice sheen and smells great. We don’t even own a vacumn anymore so the rugs get cleaned the old fashion way- taking them outside and beating them!

Overall I think I do pretty well. None of its hard and none it involves a lot of money. In fact it saves me a lot of money.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2008 2:45 pm

    Mr Chiots and I also work from home (both of us). We’ve always tried to be as green as possible. We bought desks after a few years of unerganomic tables that were causing pain. But we bought $20 IKEA desks and painted them. Our office looks quite professional for the $300 we spent on it.

    We also buy recycled paper and use both sides. We try to do as much digitally as we can to save on paper usage (and postage). We also installed power strips to plug everything in to so we can turn off speakers, chargers & printer when we’re not using them. We do however leave our computers on all the time since we have back-up’s scheduled to happen while we sleep (worth the electric after some important info was lost). We also have a ceiling fan and CFL lights. We do however had a window a/c unit so that we can cool the office during the day and not the whole house (it gets hot with DH’s G5 chugging away).

    Great job greening up your office. I also print the “Recycle Please” logo on all of the stuf I mail out (you can download it and use it free here:

  2. September 10, 2008 1:31 pm

    That office looks great!


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