Stocking the Green Office: Sustainable Supplies

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colorful paperclipsBefore you can open your doors for business, you need an office. Stocking your office with needed supplies is a great opportunity to show your green side and make sustainable choices. From furnishings to paper clips, there are eco-friendly options out there for every office need.

Whether you’re working from home or from a downtown high-rise, you can conserve paper, reduce energy use, and produce less waste by keeping the environment in mind for all your office purchases. In this article, I’ll share ideas for stocking your green office and sources of green office products.

Sustainable Paper Options

After trying to reduce your company’s use of paper as much as possible, it’s still inevitable that you’ll need paper to keep on hand at the office. Thankfully there are many green paper options available that don’t involve cutting down a single tree. Even your local office or stationery store probably carries recycled paper. Don’t forget to look for recycled or tree-free envelopes, notebooks, file folders, and even post-it notes as well as your standard copy paper. There’s just no excuse for using virgin paper when there are so many tree-friendly types available. You can order bulk supplies online from many retailers as well. My favorite source for everything a green office might need is The Green Office. In addition to extensive paper choices, they offer all kinds of green office products from furniture to phones to ink.

Office Furniture

When it comes to furnishing a new office, it’s a good idea to start with what you already have. Do you have any old furniture collecting dust that could be re-purposed into a desk or filing cabinet? It’s economical and eco-friendly to buy used whenever possible, so hit up your local yard sales! A coat of low-VOC paint can turn any old piece of furniture into a new fixture color-coordinated to your office. A DIY project can also be a great way to make your office a little more “you.”

If DIY is not your thing or you’re just not finding what you need second-hand, there are many green furniture companies to fit your office needs. Check out The Green Office’s furniture section, IKEA (many of their products are surprisingly green), or modular, 95% recycled pieces designed by Ecowork. And while it may look professional, I don’t recommend a plush leather office chair. There’s some pretty nasty chemicals that go into making leather, not to mention a considerable amount of cruelty.

For ideas on green building materials and inspiration for the interior design of your new office, head on over to Green Building Elements.

Clean and Green

Every office needs to stay clean, and it’s easy to be green and clean with sustainable cleaning products. Seventh Generation and Ecover make a wide variety of cleaners for any purpose, but it’s even easier (and much cheaper) to make your own cleaning products. Green cleaners help maintain a healthy indoor air quality, which is better for you and the planet. Another way to green your office cleaning is to use re-usable rather than disposable cleaning products. Instead of one-use wipes or dust cloths, keep a stock of organic cotton cloths or even old rags for wiping counters and dusting. They can be washed and re-used over and over, saving landfill space and trees.

When it comes to office supplies, there’s no shortage of green choices. And they may be as close as your nearest office supply store. Just make sure to look for a high percentage of post-consumer content in recycled materials, or the use of rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo in office furniture. And if the store doesn’t have many eco-friendly options available, bring it up and let them know that discerning customers demand greener products.

Happy shopping!

This article is the eleventh in a series called Green Dreams following my journey starting a green design business. You can learn along with me: read the series introduction, see some green business resources, get inspired, learn how to write a business plan, find out how to name your business, learn why sustainability should be a part of your planning from the beginning, avoid commuting by working from home, build green business practices into your daily workflow, work towards a paperless office, and get certified green! Stay tuned for more each week on starting a green business!

Photo credit: K Christner, via Flickr and Creative Commons.

About the Author

I grew up camping and hiking in the woods of Idaho, leading to a connection with and deep respect for nature. I recently moved to the Mendocino coast in Northern California, where I was happy to find not only beautiful redwoods and beaches, but a high level of green consciousness. I am a graphic and web designer who focuses on making the world a better place through sustainable design and communication. I specialize in green design solutions for small businesses, non-profits, and activist organizations. When I'm not designing, I'm hiking, camping, traveling, taking pictures, blogging, and spending time with my boyfriend and our "fur-kids." You can find out more about me on my sites and blogs: my personal site, volksvegan.org, or unplug magazine.