If you think going green at work means you have to invest in wind turbines to power your computers and only use office equipment made of bamboo, think again. There are plenty of ways you can be eco- and ergonomically-friendly in the office without having to become a registered member of Greenpeace. You can start with rethinking how you buy, use and dispose of your office furniture.
Check out 8 ways you can help the environment and your employees by going green with office furniture.
1. Buy modular furniture: Because it can be mixed and matched and reconfigured whenever your company grows, modular office furniture is ideal for environmentally minded businesses. Instead of having to replace all of your workspaces each time you go through growing pains, you can simply add complementary pieces to the furniture you already have on hand.
2. Refurbish your furniture: If you’re furniture is still functional but just looks a little tired, rather than replace it, think about freshening it up. You can sand out knicks and scratches and repaint wood furniture (just look for low-VOC paint). You can even repair damaged table legs or armrests, or reupholster chairs and couches (using green material like you would find here or here).
3. Buy used: One big way you can help the environment while furnishing your office is to buy used furniture. Each year an estimated 8.8 million tons of usable office equipment ends up in a landfill, according to the EPA. There’s no need for your business to participate in the rampant wastefulness. Buying used will not only save furniture from the garbage, but it will also save you money and be healthier for your employees (older furniture is less likely to release VOCs, which contribute to poor indoor air quality). To start shopping, just check out our amazing inventory of high-quality used pieces where you can find everything from chairs to cubicles.
4. Donate your old furniture: There are several advantages to donating your used furniture. First, it won’t end up in a landfill, and it will also potentially help businesses or families that don’t have as many resources as yours. Plus, you can get a tax write-off, which equals savings for you. Donate to an organization like Good360 and you can rest assured that your old furniture will go to one of 30,000 pre-qualified charities who will distribute it to the people who need it most.
5. Use natural light: Lighting accounts for 40 percent of a typical office’s electric bill according to OpenForum.com, so by opening the blinds to allow natural light in, you’re not only helping your employees, you’re also saving money. Studies have found that exposure to natural light reduces eye strain while improving productivity.
6. Think outside the chair: One trend being spotted in health-conscious offices are employees sitting on stability balls instead of traditional office chairs. Stability balls encourage active sitting, improve posture, strengthen your core muscles and reduce fatigue among other positive things. They’re also cheaper than office chairs (of course, you’ll probably want to check to find out what your employees think about sitting on a giant rubber bouncy ball all day before replacing all of your chairs).
7. Think about the long-term investment: When you want to find office seating that’s both ergonomic and green, you’ll probably end up spending more money. We know you’re on a budget, but here we’re going to advise you think long-term. Chances are your employees will be sitting at a desk for the better part of eight hours a day. The more comfortable you can make them feel (think reducing back pain and neck strain while limiting their exposure to harmful VOCs), the healthier and more productive they’ll be. You’ll save money on sick days and grow revenue from your happy employees. Plus, higher-cost furniture might also equate to higher quality, which means you won’t have to fix or replace furniture for a long time. Your short-term financial loss might pave the way for a long-term financial gain.
8. Accessorize: If you’d like to help your employees be more comfortable at work, but simply can’t afford $1,000+ fancy ergonomic chairs for each of them, you can at least accessorize with items that will help them work without strain. Look at things like foot rests for under their desks, back rests for their chairs, wrist rests for their keyboards and adjustable height monitor arms. Also, desk lamps can relieve some of the strain that comes with working under fluorescent lights all day.