Eco tips for freelancers

Reader's Digest Editors

Most of us are freelance than ever, but even a small set-up will cause waste and pollution. Here are some tips to keep your freelance life as eco-friendly as possible. 

Planning your office

An eco-friendly office layout

Minimise clutter so that you can easily dust, clean and access files, equipment and cables. Make sure your office is well ventilated as office equipment is a significant source of heat and unhealthy fumes.

Avoid office furniture made from wood composites, which can contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose solid wood instead.

Consider buying second-hand furniture to recycle materials, save money and reduce chemical fumes.

Maximise your use of natural light. Your screen may need to be kept in shade to limit reflections, but try to place a separate desk or table near a window so that you can read in natural light. For artificial lighting, use energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

 

Buying equipment 

laptops are better for the environment than desktops

Select energy-efficient products, preferably bearing an Energy Star or Environmental Choice label. Favour manufacturers with sound environmental policies. Reports on the green credentials of companies can be found online.

Choose a computer that you will be able to upgrade easily. Consider a laptop. It can use up to 90 per cent less energy than a desktop machine and can be easily hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and conventional mouse.

 

Selecting peripherals

ways to be eco friendly as a freelancer

To save energy, have peripherals, such as CD drives, installed inside the computer rather than purchasing separate units, or buy units that are powered by the computer.

Consider multifunction machines, such as a combination printer, photocopier and scanner, which can save energy. When costing printers, make sure you factor in the lifespan and price of cartridge refills.

 

Efficient computing 

a computer with screensaver. Bad for the environment

Make sure you are using your equipment’s energy-saving features. Select the shortest acceptable period of inactivity before your computer switches to sleep mode. Switch off appliances at the wall when you are not using them and make sure any that have to stay on permanently are Energy Star products.

Avoid screen savers. They are unnecessary on modern LCD screens and do not reduce energy use. Use sleep mode or switch off.

If your computer doesn’t have energy-saving features, turn off the monitor when you’re not using it, since the monitor uses up to 80 per cent of the power used.

 

Using consumables 

recycled stationery

Opt for folders, binders and dividers made from recyclable materials. Avoid plastics. Buy refillable pencils and pens.

Choose paper and packaging made from recycled paper. Avoid chlorine-bleached paper: look for "chlorine-free" or "oxygen bleached" labels.

Use suppliers who obtain materials from eco-friendly sources and operate recycling programs.

‘Electronic notepads are a fantastic alternative to using traditional paper’, says Tech director Michael Darlington at Instash ‘Not only are they environmentally friendly, they actually work out to be cost effective in the long run as they last several years.   Their ability to convert your works into a PDF format also allows you to share documents and store them indefinitely.  Consumers are growing increasingly aware of their carbon footprint.  In, my opinion investing in a electronic notepad is a no brainer. ‘

E-waste

wasted electronics

Huge quantities of office equipment are dumped every year—so-called "e-waste"—adding dangerous toxins to landfills. Reuse or recycle.

Donate your old computer to a non-profit organisation or a friend. Ask if the manufacturer of your computer will recycle a redundant machine. Some companies even recycle competitors’ computers. Alternatively, look for an accredited computer recycler.

Try to recycle or refill printer cartridges. You can take used cartridges to many post offices and retailers that participate in schemes. Many suppliers refill used cartridges. Make sure using refills won’t damage the printer or void your warranty.

 

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