This desk hammock from Austin-based Uplift Desk may be the perfect accessory for your home office. Courtesy of Upliftdesk.com.
June 3, 2020
If you’re like me, working from home has certainly made me more aware of using eco-friendly products in my “work” zone. My mind is abuzz with questions - Are those pens recyclable? Is that light fixture using an LED bulb? Am I conserving paper as much as I can? Is my indoor air quality what it should be?
According to Treehugger.com, working from home may become the new normal for many of us - a trend that has been bubbling under the surface for quite awhile.
“It will be interesting to see how many people are really, really desperate to get out of the house and how many have decided that they would rather keep working from home,” said Treehugger reporter Lloyd Alter.
You may already be practicing some green office habits at home. For instance, brewing coffee in my favorite ceramic mug is a daily ritual and I’ll bet it is for you too. If we were still all traveling to work, it’s much more common to have that morning brew in a disposable cup, often picked up at a drive-through on the way or maybe from the one-cup dispenser in the breakroom. Also, since we’re not printing notes for meetings or flyers for customers, we are probably all using much less paper than normal.
Other green tips might not be in your routine yet, such as simply adding a few live plants in your work space to help clean indoor air or buying eco-friendly products office supplies.
Though the most eco-friendly habit is just to buy less stuff, sometimes the right tool can help get the job done better and (or) faster. We’ve searched high and low for a few must-haves to add to your home workplace.
The Jet Multi-pen is made from 81 percent recycled plastic.
Remember those cool pens we had as kids that could write in multiple colors? JetPens.com offers a variety of recycled pen options but this blast from the past will take you back a few years. The Zebra Sarasa Multi 4+1 includes four gel ink refills and a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil - perfect for multi-tasking.
According to Jet’s website it comes with four basic gel ink colors, but it is also compatible with a wide selection of Sarasa gel ink and Surari ballpoint ink colors, letting you pick and choose your perfect combination. So you can truly customize this pen - and it’s really pretty to boot! The Multi 4+1 comes in three stylish body patterns and is made of 81 percent recycled plastic. Only $8.25 at JetPens.com
BOTTLE TO PEN
Pilot's B2P pens, made from recycled bottles, feature 89 percent recycled content.
Another writing instrument to consider is Pilot’s B2P - a gel pen made from recycled bottles. Smooth and easy to read with ink that can be refilled, extending each pen’s life.
Lots of colors from which to choose and there’s also a ballpoint version available.
Non-latex rubber grip means they’re comfortable to hold as you journal, take Zoom notes or send birthday cards - all while protecting the planet. Around $10 for 5 pens at OfficeDepot.com.
Doesn’t it drive you crazy to throw away a perfectly good marker pen when the ink is empty and yet the body of the pen is still in good shape?
Auspen has the solution - refillable dry erase markers filled with environmentally-friendly inks.
According to Auspen’s website, between schools, universities and other institutions, roughly 400 million whiteboard markers are thrown out every year in America alone. That’s a huge amount of waste that we can all help to prevent.
In addition, most dry and wet erase markers contain xylene, a highly-toxic chemical. Yuck!
Auspens are xylene-free and totally safe, even for kids. The pen bodies are made from aluminum that will last virtually forever and the fiber nibs are replaceable, just like the ink.
A starter set of six assorted markers is under $15 with ink bottles around $6 per color. The best deal is six pens with ink refills and a carrying case for around $55. We tested them and were very pleased with the quality, ease of refill and ink vibrancy. Choose penfill not landfill! Visit Auspen.us.
Reusuable sticky notes from MCSquares can be stuck and erased up to 2,000 times.
Save a tree with reusable sticky notes from MCSquares, a Colorado-based company committed to eliminating paper waste as much as possible.
Featured on Shark Tank, this innovative company was founded by Anthony Franco, an award-winning entrepreneur and product designer.
The concept is simple - reusable white squares, which act like a combo of sticky notes and dry-erase boards that you can apply to just about anything to create lists, post reminders or even write love letters.
According to the company’s website, each American-made stickie can be stuck and erased up to 2,000 times each. Companion marker boards and other products also available. MCSquares plants a tree for every product they sell. Bundles start at $19.99 with free U.S. shipping. MCSquares.com.
Dolphin Blue carries 3M Post-it notes made from 30 percent post consumer recycled waste fiber.
If you still prefer paper Post-It Notes, did you know that they are now available made from recycled paper? Our friends at Dolphin Blue, a Dallas-based office supplier, have several sizes from which to choose in lined or unlined.
We like these bright colors with lines that will stand out and help you remember your to-do list or whatever else needs to stay top-of-mind. Plant based adhesive backing so they will compost when you’re done with them.
Made in the USA from 30 percent post consumer recycled waste fiber. Large 4x6 size, 4 pads for just $17.64 at DolphinBlue.com.
WORK FROM COUCH
Dolphin Blue sells aluminum lap desks and clip boards made from recycled aluminum.
Another nifty item from Dolphin Blue is a Recycled Aluminum Lap Desk that we featured last year in our Back to School guide. It’s also handy for home office use, especially if you’re writing while binging reruns of The Great British Baking Show.
Made from 60 percent post-consumer recycled content, it is sized to hold an 8.5-inch by 12-inch letter sized notepad and has a divided storage compartment inside to keep extras such as forms and paper pads plus a built-in handy pencil tray.
Antimicrobial additive reduces the formation of bacteria. Self-locking and built to last virtually forever. According to the manufacturer’s website, Saunders aluminum products are made with 89 percent recycled content with at least 30 percent post consumer waste. 95 percent less energy used to recycle and 95 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. Saunders annual usage displaces the equivalent of 51,000,000 aluminum cans.
Heck, your old Dr. Pepper can might even be in there! $44.80 at DolphinBlue.com.
Recycled copy and printer paper has been around for a while but much of it is only partially post-consumer, some as little as 30 percent. Staples 100 percent Recycled Multipurpose Paper is made from all recycled post-consumer content for a truly sustainable choice.
Acid-free to prevent from crumbling and yellowing, it can be used in both laser and inkjet printers as well as copy machines. About $12 per ream of 500 sheets or you can save a bit when you buy a case of 5 reams for about $55. At Staples.com or local stores. Delivery available.
GROW YOUR CONNECTIONS
Looking for a way to let customers know that you’re still around? Send them a postcard that can grow into flowers!
Bloomin sells cards and paper embedded with seeds for planting.
Choose from a variety of unique ideas from Bloomin.com, a Colorado-based greeting card company that has been making seed paper since 1995. You can even design your own and the company will print them for you on 100 percent recycled paper with a clever attachment loaded with seeds, dyed with all-natural, vegetable-based pigments.
Bloomin products are printed with water-based inks and they use corn-based packaging. Their production facility is powered by the same sun that makes their products bloom - just one reason why they have been certified as a B Corp for their sustainable practices. Your customers will appreciate that you helped them plant milkweed to save the monarchs, wildflowers for bees or even herbs and veggies to feed their family. Just think of the possibilities!
Starting around $1 each, depending on quantity. Check out Bloomin’s printable seed paper and greeting cards too! Bloomin.com.
ZERO-WASTE LINT BRUSH
The lint brush from Eco Girl Shop removes lint, fur, dush, and debris without wasteful tear-off sticky sheets.
One thing that I have noticed since I have been at home more is that my dog, Hamish, wants to sit in my lap all day - and truly he helps to keep my blood pressure down. When I do have to leave the house to go to the grocery store though, I look like I’m wearing a hairshirt!
I have owned one of these handy lint brushes from Eco Girl Shop for many years and it still works like a champ. Simply wipe it across your clothing and the pet hair is caught in its micro bristles, then you simply throw the hair into your composter. Works great on couches and bedding too. Two sides allow for right or left-handed users. Super easy and kinda fun. Kids love playing with them and watching the hair magically disappear. $12.99 at EcoGirlShop.com.
Storage cubes from The Ultimate Green Store are 100 percent recyclable.
Who wouldn’t love these trendy mid-mod storage cubes made from 99 percnt recycled paper from the Ultimate Green Store? Their bright colors will liven up even a dull quarantine day. Roughly 2-feet square, they are large enough to hold loads of books, gadgets or decor with room on top for a printer or other electronics.
Completely recyclable, formaldehyde and VOC-free as well as water resistant. Available in Espresso, White, Orange and Green.
A set of Quad Cubby Organizers is just $82.99 with free shipping from TheUltimateGreenStore.com. Other configurations are also available.
STAND AND DELIVER
Austin-based Uplift Desk sells sustainable standing desks.
One negative about working from home so much is that one can literally get sore from sitting. Enter the standing desk concept. We hear a lot about standing desks but not much about their green-ness.
Austin-based Uplift Desks features standability and sustainability. Many of their products have Greenguard certification, which means that they have been tested for chemical emissions so they don’t negatively impact indoor air quality.
My fav is the Greenguard Gold-certified laminate whiteboard desktop (Watch video) that sports a writing surface for notes and such.
Uplift also uses repurposed lumber from barns, vintage flooring and whiskey barrels to make many of their desktops. The company even plants five new trees in our National Forests for every single solid wood desktop sold - adding up to several thousand new trees planted each year.
Industry-leading 7-year, all-inclusive warranty for peace-of-mind. Starting around $500 including shipping from UpliftDesk.com.
The online store also sells under the desk hammocks in blue and gray for $55 that George Kostanza would love.
BUILT TO LAST
How many times have you seen broken desk chairs on the curb, headed for the landfill? One of the best ways to avoid that situation is to invest in quality products in the first place.
Herman Miller’s Embody Desk Chair is built to last a lifetime and is 95-100 percent recyclable if it ever does wear out.
Though the price will set you back, around $1,500, like all Herman Miller products the Embody Chair is possibly the best that you can buy and the comfort and back support is worth every penny.
The Herman Miller company is also committed to sustainability such as using 100 percent renewable energy, diverting their scrap fabrics to Haiti for use in Fair Trade products, and employing a hawk to keep seagulls from landing on the roof of their headquarters (the seagulls interfere with the rainwater collection that is used to flush their toilets).
So you can feel good about supporting them with your buying choices. Find a dealer at HermanMiller.com.
The Nimble iPhone case is made from 100 percent plastic water bottles.
One of the smartest companies that we have featured over the last year is Nimble, makers of recycled and plant-based phone cases, chargers and other electronic gear.
Their iPhone cases (around $40) are made from 100 percent plastic water bottles, shipped in plastic-free compostable packaging, and 5 percent of all sales go to help charities that care about the planet.
Their wireless phone chargers are made from hemp and recycled plastic bottles. Their portable phone chargers are made from corn and recycled aluminum.
Nimble’s wireless stand charger (around $60) has an extra standard USB port as well as a mini-C USB port (for cameras and many bluetooth ear/headphones) so you can charge multiple devices at one time. Magnetic holder keeps cords from getting lost.
But Nimble is more than just products. They are trying to change the way that consumers and manufacturers think about devices. According to Nimble’s co-founder, Ross Howe, Nimble will recycle responsibly one pound of e-waste for every product sold. They even pay the shipping. Find out more at GoNimble.com.
COLOR YOUR WORLD
Looking for a printer that fits your green lifestyle? Consider an Epson EcoTank all-in-one color printer and you’ll never throw away another ink cartridge.
With its built-in ink tanks, the Epson EcoTank is easy to refill and comes with enough ink to last most households about 2 years. Refills can save you up to 90 percent over traditional cartridges. Wi-Fi Direct connectivity allows you to print from your laptop, tablet or phone without having to connect to a router - and with the voice-activated printing, you can run a job using voice commands. The Epson EcoTank produces gorgeous photos and graphics with a high maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi, yet it prints a fast 10 pages per minute in black and white and 5 pages per minute in color.
Starting around $200 at Best Buy for a base model. Fancier versions feature faster print speeds, LED touch screens and document feeders.
Send kids back to school with these green supplies
Stay up to date on everything green in North Texas, including the latest news and events! Sign up for the weekly Green Source DFW Newsletter! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Also check out our new podcast The Texas Green Report, available on your favorite podcast app.