Going Green With Your Paperwork: Tips for the Remote Office

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Written by Annie Button

With environmental concerns mounting year-on-year, people are looking for ways to adopt more eco-friendly lifestyles both at home and at work. For business owners and remote workers, there are many simple steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact. 

While you might already have a green job, making small sustainable changes to how you work from home can make a big difference. Here are some tips to make your remote office greener:

Adopt Green Habits In Your Home Office

Working remotely has many benefits, including flexibility and a better work-life balance.  Recent reports state that remote working is better for the environment. However, it can lead to habits that aren't environmentally friendly, such as giving little thought to the amount of paper you use and waste. Without a manager to check your recycling levels or pressure from official business waste-monitoring audits, it's easy to overprint documents and waste paper. 

Recycle and Reduce Paper to Avoid Waste

If you work from home, there are multiple good recycling habits you can adopt to reuse your paper products more efficiently. First of all, check if your neighborhood or building has recycling pickups or drop-offs available. Recycle all eligible paper products including newspapers, magazines, cardboard and office paper.

Consider introducing the following healthy habits into your work-from-home routine:

  • Use scrap paper for taking notes or as scratch paper.
  • Designate a bin on your desk for clean one-sided paper.
  • Repurpose old business card holders, folders, binders, and file boxes instead of buying new ones.
  • Stock up on recycled notebooks, sticky notes, and notepads instead of regular paper products.
  • Reuse envelopes and folders for internal mail rather than throwing them away after one use. Set up clearly labeled recycling bins in the office or home workspace for paper, glass, plastic, and aluminum. Ensure these are emptied regularly.
  • Use recycled paper products and look for office supplies made from sustainable materials.
  • Reuse paper printed on one side for drafts or internal memos.
  • Purchase recycled printer ink cartridges and recycle old ones responsibly.

Print and Shred Documents More Sustainably

You can also strive to print responsibly by shredding and recycling any of your sensitive documents. When it comes to printing, larger businesses are encouraging customers and remote workers to use conscientious printers. This means reviewing your printing processes to use recycled and sustainable materials whenever possible, and constantly evaluating practices to minimize waste and energy usage. 

Before printing anything, therefore, ask yourself if you really need a physical copy. You can save documents digitally and reference them on your computer as well as set your printer settings to default to double-sided printing. 

The following tips are useful:

  • Limit printing long documents. Print only the pages you need or print on both sides. Consider using digital highlighters and notes rather than writing on printouts.
  • Don't print single use documents you'll quickly throw away, like boarding passes and event tickets. Use digital versions on your phone instead.
  • Change document settings to smaller fonts and margins to fit more text on each page.
  • Unsubscribe from junk mail lists and catalogs to reduce the amount of paper sent to your home.
  • Think before you print. Only print what you really need and set printers to default to double-sided printing.
  • Go paperless with billing, invoicing, payments and filing where possible. Store documents digitally on computers and in the cloud.
  • Request "no paper" invoices and statements and opt for digital versions instead.
  • Cancel unwanted subscriptions and junk mail to reduce paper overflow.

Rethink Your Post and Packaging

If you are packing items when working remotely or posting a lot from home, there are good habits to take up to ensure you’re being more eco-friendly. Going green with your paperwork can save money and benefit the environment. 

These key points on sustainable packaging can help to minimize paper waste and unnecessary printing as you work remotely.:

  • Request no unnecessary packaging from suppliers and vendors.
  • Opt for minimal or recyclable packaging.
  • Switch to reusable alternatives like canvas bags and glass food storage.
  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste from individual items.
  • Send documents and parcels digitally instead of printed copies requiring envelopes.

When it comes to posting items, today’s global mail providers, such as UPS and FedEx Office, offer paper shredding and electronic recycling services. Some have introduced sustainability programs that do a lot for the environment and help you to securely dispose of sensitive work documents from your remote office. You might also want to learn how to recycle any old ink cartridges. Many firms who sell printer ink and toner cartridges will help you to recycle them via their manufacturing initiatives like HP's Planet Partners.

Set a Positive Path Towards Change

Many global businesses are setting positive precedents to their remote employees by sharing advice on actioning sustainability solutions. When a business communicates recycling tips well, it can encourage you to work out an effective eco-friendly system for your home office. 

Businesses can go a step further by actively supporting you as a remote worker to adopt healthy recycling habits and home habits, and other sustainable practices. In turn, businesses and remote workers can greatly reduce their environmental footprint by recycling and reusing office items. Non-recyclable materials that you use in your home office can often be repurposed, recovered, or disposed of in an eco-friendly manner. 

Today’s organizations are even implementing programs to monitor the environmental status of remote teams to measure the impact they have on the green results of the business as a whole.

Conserve Energy In Your Home Office

In addition to recycling, you can go that extra step by making a conscious effort to conserve energy in your home office. You can switch off any electrical devices like printers, laptops, and lights when not in use, and unplug chargers and equipment when idle.

To further reduce consumption, try to use energy-efficient LED bulbs in your home office to lower your energy usage. Working remotely does allow greater control over your recycling and energy habits. With small, sustainable practices like turning off unused electronics, adjusting power settings, and upgrading lighting in personal workspaces, you are making small but effective solutions to combat the negative impact of climate change.

Going green not only benefits the planet but can reduce costs by cutting waste and energy consumption. With some thoughtful changes, it's easy for your remote role or home-office setup to become part of building a greener future. Alongside all your recycling efforts, or steps to print, package and post items in a more eco-conscious way, simple steps can go a long way.

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