Greener is greater! Making sure that your home office is a sustainable haven is an emerging necessity in today's interior design. From top to bottom, it's easy to integrate eco-friendly aspects into your workspace. Remember that it's okay to just follow a guideline or two. Every little bit matters, even if you aren't completely diving in to a fully-sustainable space.
It Starts with Packaging
No matter how your furniture arrives, it is going to be packaged or protected in some way. From freight-delivered to ready-to-assemble pieces, the packaging used can be made from different materials. Avoid plastic or foam wrapping, Styrofoam, packing peanuts, and other plastics. Corrugated carboard or molded paper solids are an excellent alternative that can be just as effective. Brands that focus on being particularly eco-friendly will make note of their initiative, so pay attention for these pleasant disclaimers.
Prioritize Sustainable Materials
Even if it isn't always possible, it's important to prioritize materials that are sustainably harvested, easy to recycle, or free from finishes that make it difficult to recycle. Many solid wood products cannot be recycled by traditional means, such as curbside recycling, due to treatments, coatings, or paint. Laminates and MDF are equally difficult to recycle. Find dedicated programs through your recycling center to take advantage of material-specific recycling.
Metals, even aluminum, are often powdercoated or finished in a way that makes it difficult to quickly recycle. As a rule of thumb, try to disassemble furniture as best as possible and take a visit to your closest recycling center. If you can, hold on to screws, nuts, and bolts and reuse them for other projects around the house.
A Little TLC Goes a Long Way
The more care you put into your furniture, the less waste you'll introduce into the world. Learn how to best clean different types of materials (hint: a little bit of Dawn dish soap in a bucket of water can work wonders on many surfaces) to make sure that they stay looking just as good as the day you brought them home. Invest in quality furniture in order to extend your length of use and look for finishes, such as high-pressure laminate, that are made to last.
Look for Timeless Trends
As you're shopping, look for pieces that can blend in with different trending décor styles. As different designs come in and out of fashion, your furniture won't need to be replaced over and over again. Especially if you're shopping for well-made, sustainable furniture, it's best to ensure that you won't have to constantly replace these costly pieces. Basic silhouettes are always a sure shot, however finishes are often a topic of trend. The more neutral and agreeable the better.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
When your existing furniture has run its course, there's a wealth of ways to make sure that you're extending its life to reduce waste. If you need to dispose of it, there's always eco-friendly ways to make sure you're recycling as much of it as possible:
Repurpose in Another Area
When your desk has run its course, first think if you have any other personal uses. Could it become a worksurface in a downstairs workroom or a storage shelf in a shed? If you're feeling ambitious, there's no shortage of upcycling tutorials online to give your pieces a new look and life.
A Second Chance Somewhere Else
Whether you're using an online marketplace like Facebook or Craigslist or taking your pieces to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity, finding a second life for your furniture is a great way to reduce waste. Even if it's older or in poor quality, there's often furniture rehabbers that are willing to make a project out of older solid pieces. Less expensive RTA furniture may find a second home at a low price or free exchange.
Recycle the Right Materials
Take a look at the different parts of your desk, chair, or other furniture piece and determine if any of the components are recyclable in any way. Because regional recycling programs differ, consult your local waste management authority for information on how to best recycle different types of laminate, manufactured wood, textiles, and more. You might even be able to find specific recycling programs that will disassemble and properly recycle your components for you.