As some of you may know, I (Emma) work from home. (Normally in my pyjamas, as part of a quest to fulfil the stereotype!) I love it because I have no commute, no dress code, and no ‘suggestions’ about me wearing make-up.

This article will be about how I make my home office (read: corner of my bedroom with a desk) a little more eco-friendly. Although, a couple of the biggest contributors to your typical carbon footprint at work (commute, on-the-go food) are already taken out of the equation because I work 10 seconds from my bed.

Hopefully, some of these tips will inspire you to cut your carbon footprint, whether you work at home or not.

Cutting electricity

As a writer, I spend about 7 hours a day typing on my laptop. As my laptop is from 2012 and the battery is dead, I’m sure this uses a lot of electricity, so I try to cut my usage elsewhere.

(Before you comment, I did buy a new battery in 2016, but it died within a year and I’m not keen on doing it again.)

Unplug items when you’re not using them

The towel I failed to crop out is where my cat sleeps while I work

As you can see from this photo, I don’t have electronics plugged in when I’m not using them because even when the item is switched off, it still uses electricity. My printer, phone, coffee maker, and lamp only get plugged in when I need them, which is maybe one item once a day.

Also, the coffee maker is one of those horrible capsule ones. I got it from my nan’s house and I’m just using the capsules up before I sell it. To dispose of the used capsules in an eco-friendly way, I’m:

  • removing the lid and placing it in the bin
  • putting the coffee grounds into a jar and either using it as a body scrub or putting it straight in the compost
  • putting the plastic bottom into the Sainsbury’s Mixed Plastic bin

Work with natural light

laptop on desk under window

I work directly under a window (I live in the attic like Cinderella), so I rarely have to turn either the ceiling light or my lamp on. Except when I work before 7 am or after 5 pm, which doesn’t happen often anymore because I’m getting better at this whole work-life balance thing.

Minimise heater and fan usage

cat in  blanket
An accurate representation of me today

As I live in the attic, it boils in the summer and freezes in the winter, but I try to cope with this without using the heater or the fan. (I mean, the radiator’s in the wrong place and I never feel like the ceiling fan works, but I’m still going to count this.)

During the summer, I open the window and, sometimes, soak a t-shirt in cold water at several points during the day. In winter, I wrap myself in hoodies and, occasionally a blanket.

Restricting emails

I recently learned that emails have a carbon footprint because the internet is held up by huge data-processing sites. Therefore, I’m trying to send fewer emails (i.e. one email with all of the work from the project rather than several), clear up my inbox, and unsubscribe from all of those mailing lists I find myself on.

This is harder than I thought. The Inbox Zero struggle is real.

Of course, a neat way to offset this is with search engine Ecosia, which plants trees when you search for something.

Cutting waste

As mentioned in a previous article, I’m exceptionally cheap. Thus, it won’t surprise you to know that I’ve kept every workbook and gel pen from my school days so I don’t waste products that could be used for writing or that I hoard used A4 paper in case I need to print anything and small bits to write my daily to-do lists.

Another way that I prevent waste is:

envelope of scrap paper
The envelope was also used as a to-do list and to note down everyone I had to tell about my broken phone
  • Putting all smaller pieces of used paper into an envelope to be recycled so that they don’t gum up the machinery at the recycling plant
  • Refilling printer inks at the Ink Store and, when needed, recycling them with Portsmouth Green Party
  • Borrowing or buying used anything that I need for work, like the tilted platform my laptop rests on
  • Making my own pen holder from a Primark bag and an empty washing powder tub
  • Recycling pens with Milton Cross School
  • Composting pencils when they’re down to the last little nubs (don’t worry about the graphite, a small amount won’t harm the soil)

Going green

two cacti
My plant babies

For my last point in this article, I was once told that having plants in your office makes you focus more and work harder. I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but I do now have two cacti on my desk. (Normally, placed out of the way of the cat.)

Even if I’m not incredibly focused, I do like that it’s helping to take some CO2 out of the air. (Even if Tamara’s husband recently told me that it works the opposite way at night, so my bedroom is essentially filling with CO2 after the sun goes down.)

Okay, well that’s it from me. If you have any ways to eco-hack your office, let me know in the comments.


Written by Emma, a Queer Freelance Writer