Over the last year more and more of us have been finding ourselves working from home, therefore needing a home office. Whether you’re a student, employed or a stay at home parent, over the last while we have been finding ourselves needing office resources we might not have needed before. For better or worse, it seems that we can expect this to go on for a little longer, and working at home is likely to be more common than it might have been pre-pandemic. Here are my favorite tips for how you can can have a zero waste home office.
Use what you already have & skip unnecessary supplies
Surely this can’t just be me, who finds stationery incredibly tempting to buy, no matter how much of it I have. My first thing to say, which is a running theme throughout this blog, is if you already have something don’t buy more. Sustainable or not, buying items you don’t need, increases the demand and therefore product production. The best part about this is its totally free, which you know I am all in favour of! I think you will be surprised how long you can last for, if you collected up all the pens, pencils and notebooks you have lying around.
Do you remember when you were at school and you’d get given a supplies list of things you needed to get? If you are anything like me you probably did not use half of the things you are told you would need. And if you did and you didn’t have it, chances are the school had it anyway? Same goes for life in general. There are so many things that I have bought in the past and then never used, because I bought them assuming I would need it in the future. I still have 2 bottles of tip-ex from when I was at school because it turns out I am more of a scribbling out kind of person. With that in mind, it is much better to seek out an item when you discover you need it, than purchasing items that are just going to lie around your house, collecting dust, which will most likely get thrown away down the line.
Technology is a bit of a bug bear for me. I would say, that technology is one of the things people are most likely to replace before the product has reached the end of its life. If we are all honest with ourselves, we all have those items of clothing we have had for upwards of 5 years, but how many of us have upgraded our phones in the last 18-24 months. I am not saying that there isn’t an issue in the clothing industry because, goodness me, there is a huge one. But, there is also a massive issue surrounding the disposable technology culture that has been created.
Technology is a necessity for many of us, especially in a home office, and provided it is used and sourced in the right way, it can aid us in reducing our waste. The key take away here, is where ever possible, try to use second hand or refurbished technology. I feel like there is a bit of a stigma surrounding this but I have had a second hand phone now for over a year and I am not sure I could buy a new one again. You’ll also find that these will often cost less, so wins all round.
Pens and Paper
Having mentioned technology, I thought I’d mention how I use technology to reduce my waste. I actually use my iPad a lot for this. Now, I don’t advocate going out and getting one just for this purpose but if you have one then this is a great tip for you. For the last 3 years, I have used a paid app called Notability for all my university work. It is great because it allows me to make notes, download PDFs and write freely with an Apple pencil. I found this massively reduced my paper use as well as the pens I get through but also saved me an absolute fortune by buying the app. It cost around £8, I believe, which was significantly less than I was spending on paper throughout a year. If you guys are interested I am happy to show you this app some more because honestly it’s amazing. I am starting a job in September and I will 100% be using my iPad for note-taking in meetings and when I have to read medical journals.
If you don’t have a tablet or you’re just not too sure about the idea of writing on a screen there are some other super cool options you could explore. Again, don’t invest in these until you need them.
In terms of pens, did you know your standard ballpoint pens are really unsustainable? I hadn’t realised for a while but they’re essentially single use plastic items. Why not check out these pens made of grass. They come in both beige and dark brown, with blue and black refills. Alternatively, you could go a bit retro and use a fountain pen! Not the plastic refill kind but the kind you refill from an inkwell. The ink will come in a glass jar and I am told this is great for lefties who have a tendency to smudge when they write. The cool thing about both of these options is that in theory you will only ever need to buy ONE pen!
In an ideal world, we will never buy paper made of virgin pulp (non-recycled paper) again but in reality this is going to be tricky. Make sure you keep a scrap paper pile where you can grab the back of an envelope or letter if you need to scribble down a quick list. If you are very into the idea of having a physical notebook but don’t enjoy the waste that comes with them, why not check out these Rocketbooks. They are notebooks which contain QR codes in them. This allows you to save your work but you can erase the ink from the pad! I know bonkers right? It’s not a perfect solution as they are designed, for best use, with Pilot Frixion pens, which are made of plastic.
A good option, if you want to use refillable pens, like I mentioned above, is to try to find notebooks that are made of recycled paper. Again this isn’t a perfect solution but at least you have reduced the energy used in the production of the material, helped save the trees and you can compost it when you are finished.
A few other quirky zero waste home office supplies
What about if you want to check out EVEN more ways you can have a zero waste home office… check out the links below.
- Highlighter Pencils
- Staple free staplers
- Newspaper pencils (and colouring pencils)
- Bamboo sharpeners
- Plastic Free Glue
- Compostable String
- Paper Tape
- Inkless Pens
- Corn handled scissors
- Wheat Straw or Bamboo Ruler
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. We are officially at the half way mark for this little “Around the House” series. Make sure to follow me on my various social media’s linked below and check in again next week where I will be sharing some of my favourite zero-waste cleaning tips. I the mean time make sure you’ve check out the other posts in this min-series for kitchen and bathroom swaps.