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6 tips on how to make your home office sustainable and waste-free

The Corona pandemic changed office life forever and made working from home the new standard in many companies. But what was first seen as a challenge turned out to be a real opportunity over time, yielding several benefits for employees, employers and even the environment. According to a Greenpeace study, home office can noticeably reduce traffic congestion, saving over 5 million tons of CO2 per year. But what else can we do to help the environment in the home office? With a zero waste home office, for example, you have the opportunity to improve your concentration and give yourself a clear conscience.

Sustainable notebook workspace at home

The office used to be like a black hole where disposable plastic and paper seemed to disappear. Large piles of documents in plastic trays, printed emails and presentations, free disposable pens from countless conferences, plastic folders, transparencies and the like – the waste was great. With telecommuting, you’re now in charge of your work environment and in control of how much waste you produce.

“Zero waste” means “zero garbage.” In short, you have to avoid creating unnecessary waste while wasting as few resources as possible. In doing so, you should reuse things, recycle and repair appliances where necessary to extend their useful life. Below, we’ve compiled 6 practical tips to help you set up a sustainable workplace and make your workday at home as waste-free as possible.

1. buy sustainable or second hand furniture.

Assemble chair from wood by yourself

A comfortable workspace with everything you need is the foundation you should build on. Essentially, you don’t need anything more than a desk, a chair, a shelf or other storage unit, and ideally something that ensures your laptop screen is at the right height so you can maintain a healthy posture. The good news is that you can source all of these things in line with the zero-waste concept.

By now, there’s already a wide selection of desks, office chairs and laptop stands made from recycled wood or other sustainable materials. And when it comes to storage and organization, there are several options that aren’t made of plastic.

Pay attention to sustainability in the home office

Another way to set up a zero waste home office is to browse thrift stores and antique stores until you find a beautiful piece that you can creatively repurpose. Breathing new life into a used item can be fun, and there are dozens of ways you can do this. This will also save you the small pile of trash that comes with packaging, styrofoam, wrapping paper and the like when you buy new.

2. buy used IT hardware

Solid wood table and green plants in sustainable home office


We live in an age where you have to have the latest and greatest all the time – we’re led to believe that if you don’t, we’ll miss out on the must-have features of the latest technology. In reality, with a little love and attention, computers can last up to 12 years. Specialized companies offer used IT hardware, such as trade show and lease returns, which are remarketed after professional refurbishment. Thus, a sustainable notebook workstation with Lenovo ThinkPads would be quite sufficient for comfortable work. Buying used notebooks and co. reduces Co2 production and the use of toxic and overly resource-intensive materials.

3. minimize paper waste

Minimize paper waste in the home office

Hundreds of different tree species can be used to produce a single sheet of paper. According to WWF, illegal logging around the world means that the wood used to make paper can come from valuable forests in the Amazon, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Indonesia. Look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council®) label when buying wood or paper products. This ensures they come from sustainable and legal forests.

Make to-do lists via app


Sign up for paperless bills and statements where possible. Stop using sticky notes. There are a number of useful virtual note-taking apps and programs you can use. So give Google Keep, Simple Note or Milanote a try. Evernote and OneNote are good for more comprehensive notes. Your to-do lists can also be created digitally with Wunderlist, Google Tasks, Microsoft To Do, Ike, Todoist, Habitica or a project management tool like Click-Up or Trello.

4. Buy sustainable stationery

Design zero waste home office

Disposable items like tape, pens and staples made of plastic are also commonly used in the home office. Use them until the end of their useful life and recycle them afterwards. Or simply replace them with sustainable and reusable office supplies, such as stainless steel ballpoint pens, aluminum pencil sharpeners, eco-tape, stainless steel scissors, etc. You can already find folders made of recycled paper in many stationery stores.

5. buy compostable stationery

Buy compostable stationery

We are talking about recyclable notebooks or pencils without rubber. There are even highlighting pencils available now as a highlighter replacement, but without the use of ink. Or how about plantable pencils that you can make grow?

6 Avoid unnecessary printing

Avoid unnecessary printing

Some of us still need to print out documents to make a quick mark or proofread a text. But ask yourself the question every time: is this really necessary? Theoretically, basic proofreading and highlighting tools are built into every editor.

If you really must print, set automatic double-sided printing when printing documents and buy recycled or refillable ink cartridges. Also, try writing your documents in eco fonts, such as Ecofont. These use less ink and toner than standard fonts.

Zero waste concept as a lifestyle

So the next time you’re shopping for office supplies or furniture for your home office, remember these 5 Zero Waste rules:

  • REFUSE – avoid unnecessary waste and reject anything that’s free.
  • REDUCE – minimize waste
  • REUSE – reuse and repair
  • RECYCLE – recycle
  • RED – compost