Now that I work at home most days, I always try to think about ways I can make my office more eco-friendly. I know that people thought that once the computer arrived, the need to print things would become obsolete but I really don't see that happening in my office. There always seems to be something that I need to print out, fill out, scan, fax or mail.
When printing, always ask yourself if it really needs to be printed. Could you scan it instead? Can you just refer to it on your computer or store it on a flash drive? If you absolutely must print it, it only stands to reason that it's best to use recycled paper. I find it very reasonably priced at office super stores. When you're done with it, make sure that you recycle it again. Most areas have recycling programs. While you're purchasing your recycled copy paper, check out the recycled sticky pads, memo pads, note pads and planners. There really is a fantastic variety out there to chose from.
Once you've taken care of your paper products, it's time to examine your ink usage. Many office supply stores offer to take back ink and toner cartridges as part of their recycling program. I bring mine back when they are empty. You can also consider having your toner cartridges refilled. I'm not really impressed with the quality of refilled ink cartridges so I choose to use a print saver program that prints documents using less ink by printing every other pixel. This is a great money saver as well since you buy ink only half as often. I use Preton Saver but there are probably other programs out there as well.
Turn off your equipment when it isn't in use. My computer is on for most of the day because I am working most of the time I'm awake. However if you're done for the day at 5:00, make sure to turn off your computer at 5:00. Also consider whether or not you need to have the printer, scanner, fax machine, paper shredder, etc plugged in all the time. Many units use electricity even when they aren't actively in use. You can prevent this from happening by connecting them to a power supply and shutting off the power supply strip at the end of the evening.
What are some other ways you make your home office eco-friendly? I'd love to find some more ways to be kinder to the earth while I work at home.