How to reduce waste in the office

Filed in Blog by on February 8, 2012 5 Comments
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How to reduce the impact of your home office

How to reduce the impact of your home office

I know some of our readers work from home, and I have to say, being the parent of a school child feels a bit like a full time office job sometimes. What with newsletters to read, forms to sign, school trips to plan for and online pay sites you have to be pretty much on top of things.

As you know, I’ve been on a decluttering mission for erm, the past two years and our office is an area that’s needed a lot of work. Being the zero waste family and all that, we’ve been coming up with ways to reduce waste as much as possible in this area of our home and I’d love to hear your suggestions on how you run a ‘zero waste’ office yourselves.

Choose the right company

Some areas of office life can’t be zero waste. If you need business cards, letterheads or other business stationery you need to find a company who can help reduce the impact of their business.

Flyerzone are a small innovative environmental printing company, fully committed to reducing its environmental impact. They have identified the most wasteful aspects of their business and put policies in place to reduce this. For example they boast a wide range of recycled paper options across the range of letterheads, leaflets, business cards and flyers. Any paper they can’t avoid wasting is compacted and recycled while all other waste is separated into seventeen distinct streams for recycling or reprocessing. In addition, they use ink direct from drums rather than individual cartridges which reduces the use of plastic and landfill waste.


I’ve seen plenty of emails with the line ‘think before you print’ on them and it’s a good one to remember. When you DO have to print, does it have to be best quality in glorious technicolour or would draft mode do? Can you set up your printer to use both sides of the paper and reduce margins for rough work?
We save only the best quality, full colour printing for important documents, which are actually a very small percentage of the files we print.
For really rough work, we print on the back of old letters.


What disposable items are you using in your home office? Why not try a staple-less stapler? Yes it sounds an oxymoron but these little gadgets help prevent you cussing because you’ve run out of staples and save you money in the long run! If you fancy it, why not swap your biros for refillable fountain pens. You can buy ink in glass bottles and they add a certain flourish to your work! Here at zero waste towers we reuse any packaging that comes into our home – from regular envelopes to jiffy bags to boxes. It saves us a fortune and is good for the environment!


Remember to recycle your used toner and ink cartridges. You can turn this into a win-win situation by donating them to charity who can benefit from the profits. Alternatively consider refills for your own ink drums. We have a laser printer which we can refill about 5 times before needing to buy new cartridges. Remember to recycle your paper too; if it’s confidential, check out our seven ways to recycle shredded paper. And don’t forget, you can even recycle those old floppy disks or turn them into something funky for your desk.

What about you? I’m sure you have heaps of ideas for me…

[In association with Flyerzone]

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (5)

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  1. Chris from Germany says:

    Hi Mrs. Green,

    I had some good ideas for changes, but first I had to convice my boss. But I have had the experience, that I only have to mention “you are able to save money” to win his attention. So I was able to make some good changes in my office.

    For example:
    – We now use paperclips instead of staples for internal documents. You can reuse paperclips (and save money for buying staples and waste).
    – We now print on both paper sides (copy and print). That saves paper (and of course money for buying paper, stamps, bigger envelopes and waste).
    – I reuse unwritten and unstamped envelopes for our own outgoing mails. For internal mails I could establish the usage of e-mail.
    – I could establish one of my own programms to reduce callback-papers. You write your callback into this program and the programm sends it to the recipient by e-mail. (my argument: you have less paper on your desk and all callback-informations at one place. so you can work faster and more efficient)
    – The next thing I’m planning is to establish more using fax. (saves paper, environmental pollution and of course who would have thought it MONEY :-))

    At my homeoffice:
    – I only use refillable fountain pens (like you said: “You can buy ink in glass bottles”)
    – I only use refilled laser printer cartridges (after usage I’m able to send them back to the seller and he refills them)
    – I use a fax that can store incoming faxes to an USB-Stick. So I’m in the comfortable situation, that I can decide which faxe I want to print out and if necessary I’m able to forward them by e-mail

    If I forget something I will it tell later


  2. Teresa says:

    I came across some business cards made from paper instead of thin card at an alternative food fair last autumn.

  3. sooz says:

    I make my business cards…I print them on the back of old cereal boxes, I think they look nice too! I keep electronic copies rather than print outs of all my receipts and stuff too. At work we reuse enveloped for internal mail, have a massive scrap paper drawer, reuse the slips we use to tell the library driver where to take each book and recycle all our paper, card, plastic and cans…I just bought a compost bin to take in so I can bring our teabags and fruit peelings home to my worm bin too!

  4. I use both sides of the paper and we shred and compost all paper. And I recycle my ink. But my house is a clutter fest and I’m overwhelmed, um, ALL the time.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Chris from Germany: Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your fantastic ideas and I agree, showing someone how it will positively effect their ‘bottom line’ is often the winner 🙂 I love the idea of reusing envelopes for internal mail; that’s something that never happened when I was working in an office. Well done for all your efforts; you’re helping make such a difference.

    @Teresa: i wonder how those would weather and if people would hang onto them. I can see them getting scrumpled up when trying to put them in a wallet or similar; though I like the concept. You can now direct people to online business cards but they are a bit ‘out of sight out of mind’ if you’re hoping to drum up business I guess.

    @sooz: Love that you are composting; now is the time to get those compost bins working again!

    @Jennifer Ward-Pelar: I’m glad I’m in good company! Mind you, I’ve enlisted LIttle MIss Green to be my decluttering mentor this holiday – she has my permission to boss me around and keep me accountable so I hope to have some good results by the end of the week 😉

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