Guest Blog: Indie is the new Green: Converting Your Home Office into a Green Machine by Kristen Angelo

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Some office goods made from recycled materials: 1. Letterpress mini notepad from amyb13  ~  2. Floppy disk pencil cup from Nothing as it Seams ~  3. Recycled magnetic board from polarity ~  4.Recycled paper address file from Ugly Kitty ~

by guest contributor Kristen Angelo

Whether you’re orchestrating an entire independent business from your home office or juggling a household budget and to-do’s, there are simple steps you can take to save some green—both the kind that grows and the kind that flows.

1. Reduce your juice use:  Computer desktops, monitors, modems, speakers, printers, copiers, fax machines, chargers—these are phantom power consumers that, when turned off, but left plugged in, continue to eat up energy. (Hint: Warm power cords and equipment with indication lights clue you in on the culprits.) Investing in an eco-friendly power strip can cut unnecessary power usage, lightening your carbon footprint, and save you some mighty dollars in the long run. There are several models on the market that reduce your juice use by monitoring your equipment’s electrical currents and automatically shutting down items left idle. Try the Smart Strip Power Strip or the Wattstopper.

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2. Ditch the incandescent bulbs  and start using lower wattage compact fluorescent bulb (CFL)  lighting. Seriously. I converted to these bad boys several years ago and haven’t had to change a bulb since. Their lifespan is incredible and because they use considerably less power, you’ll see your electric bill take a nose dive. Do some comparison shopping to find the best deal out there. I purchased a variety starter pack from Costco for about $30 that easily accommodated all fixtures in my 2 story home.

3. Team up with tree huggers:  If you have a website, consider web hosting services that are powered by renewable energy or offer environmental incentives. ThinkHost  is 100% powered by solar and wind, plants a tree for each new customer who signs up for service, and is competitively priced. Other green web hosting companies include Good Avacado, Dreamhost, and HostPapa.

Sign up with CO2Stats, and they’ll purchase enough renewable energy to offset the carbon emissions generated by your site. Users are provided with a nifty “badge” to display on their site that allows visitors to view your company’s renewable energy certificates and environmental statistics.

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4. Purge the paper obsession:

  • Reduce desk clutter and paper consumption by managing your documents electronically. Sign up for an online bill pay program.
  • Designate a paper bin to collect pages that have been printed, but are no longer needed. The back side is great for reprinting or scratch paper. In my house, the paper bin is frequented by little hands in search of art projects. When you do use paper, use post consumer recycled paper. EcoPaper.com offers an assortment of unique papers made from banana fiber, tree free agricultural bio-products, and 100% post consumer content. Or use paper products made from reused paper, like the Wolfie and the Sneak notepads made from scrap office paper (see above).
  • If you use promotional materials for your business, retain the services of a company that puts green practices into play, whether it be printing on post consumer material or using water-based coatings and soy/vegetable based inks. Check out companies like BarefootPress.comGreenerPrinter.com, or Moo.com for green printing options.

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5. Stick it to the [post]man:  Or should I say the direct marketing industry. Help eliminate paper waste and stop those pesky credit card offers and promotional fliers from hording your mailbox by removing your name from mailing lists. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse lists every major marketing source out there and step-by-step instructions on how to remove your contact information from their databases (many of them can be done online in a matter of minutes).

6. R-e-c-y-c-l-e:  Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking here, “Well, duh! That’s a no-brainer.” And to that, I reply, “Au contraire mon frair.” If you live in a large metropolitan area like me (Emerald City, represent!), then you’re probably accustomed to curbside recycling programs, but did you know many rural areas don’t implement recycling as part of waste management? For the estimated 30,000 incorporated cities in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency reports only 8,550 curbside recycling programs have been implemented. But wait, then what are the other two-thirds of the country doing with their recyclable waste? If recycling hasn’t found its way to your stoop, then websites like Earth911.org and RecyclingCenters.org might be right up your alley. These sites allow users to locate independent recycling services by simply keying in a zip code of choice.

Reward your eco- ego:  Maybe being green is easier than Kermie alluded to, but still, it takes initiative and discipline to make positive change and good behavior should always be rewarded, so treat your eco- ego (and your new and improved green home office) with some fun, eco-clerical eye candy. Etsy artist 1453designs constructs fun business card holders like these from repurposed rulers and game pieces

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Catherine Ivins of Uncorked uses recycled and sustainable materials to fashion her awesome corkboards and with a
motto like “put a sustainable cork in it” how can you not dig it?

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About the contributor:  Kristen Angelo is the owner/designer of Boopalina & Bebe, an independent children’s company based out of Seattle, Washington. TheBb. label can be viewed at her website  and in her Etsy shop.  You can also follow her at her blog.

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