While living digitally has made us greener in some aspects it also has its eco drawbacks. From the amount of waste created to make all our digital doodads to the amount of power it takes to power them, a home office can easily become an epicenter of waste. So, how do you make your workspace green? While we're sure there are tons of ways you can optimize your home office to be environmentally friendly (share yours in the comments) here are a few tips.
1. Power down at the end of the day. Turning off a 75-watt desktop monitor can save up to 750 pounds of carbon emissions a year. We recommend plugging all your equipment into a single power strip and simply flipping the power switch on the strip when you're done. A tip from the folks at Wired's How-To Wiki page, power down a printer before flipping the switch "as printers need to seal their cartridges before shutting off."
2. Opt for eco-friendly electronics. The Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool offers listings (similar to LEED for architecture) on the greenest computer equipment. There's a EPEAT Quick Search Tool on their main page that lets you look at which products fit within what level of greeness -- bronze, silver, or gold. You can then look at each product's point spread from how they rated in the reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials to energy conservation to packaging. Lenovo's ThinkVision L2251x computer monitor has the highest EPEAT rating, 21/25.
3. If you have to print, use recycled paper. Ideally, you should be doing all your work electronically, but for those times when you need to print something out use recycled paper, which saves thousands of trees a year. Wausau PaperExact Eco uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled content.
4. Buy used. Before you go buying new printers, keyboards, monitors, desks, chairs, and shelving for your home office, look through craigslist. You may find gently used items of what you were going to pay premium price for a fraction of the price. Plus, by buying something used you'll be helping the environment by not having one more thing produced or put in the trash.
5. Install Deep Sleep This Mac OSX (does anyone know of a PC version?) widget puts your computer into hibernate mode, totally switching your system off, so that no power is being used. When you turn your computer back on, it won't have to do a total restart, but rather it will be in the exact same state -- same apps open, same tabs open in your browser window -- as when it entered hibernation. You should eject all external devices before entering hibernation mode so they aren't improperly ejected.
(Images: green office, tombothetominator; powerplug, Tom Raftery; cat on laptop, communista_unicorn)