Going Green, Simple and Cheap: Home Offices, Libraries, & Craft Rooms

Many people are completely intimidated by the concept of going green. It really feels like if you don’t start using a rain barrel, install solar panels on your roof, eat, drink and breathe 1000% organic, and compost every living thing under the sun, you’re a failure. But I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t true! There are tons of ways to be green simply and cheaply – and I know because as a young mom, I’m forever on a tight budget. So read on to find out my simple ways to go green, room by room.
Now we’re on to another space that you may or may not have in your home — an office, library/study, or craft/hobby room. To be honest, I never thought these types of rooms were very necessary until I became a parent. Now, I totally see why there are kids’ playrooms and then adult spaces with lockable doors. That isn’t to say I don’t love spending time with my son, but sometimes Mama just needs to get away and have a space to herself without having to worry about grubby hands or potential breakage of items or cleaning every minute piece of whatever up because you don’t want to find it in someone’s diaper the next day.
However, because this kind of room is often a luxury, they need to serve multiple purposes — may it be a work-at-home office and guest room, a shared office space with another person, or a hideaway from the rest of the house where you can pursue your hobbies with zest while keeping it neat and organized, this kind of space is especially prone to being an energy suck on you and your wallet. But we’re going to fix that.

When it comes to making a work/play space for yourself, you should make sure the space works best for you, your family and your home. The best ways to do this is through conservation of space, conservation of energy, and conservation of materials.
Conservation of Space
There is nothing less green than dedicating a huge part of your square footage to a room you may only be in a few hours a week, and otherwise leaving as an empty tomb. The resources that go into building, decorating, and maintaining such a space can leave a pretty hefty carbon footprint, so think long and hard about how much space you really need to get organized and efficient.
Perhaps instead of overtaking the guest bedroom your in-laws only occupy once a year, you could convert a large linen closet or other nook into a small, yet efficient space to suit your needs. Or you can split the space to fit both a workstation and sleeping arrangements comfortably without feeling like your guests will be answering faxes at 3 AM or that your office materials clutter an otherwise pristine guest space.
Part of being green is learning to use only what you need, and space can certainly be condensed without losing functionality. My future craft/office space will have to share with the laundry needs, and I’m okay with that because it guarantees I’ll be best using the space for my family’s needs.
Conservation of Energy
The thing with home offices is that they very easily and quickly become energy sucks. If you have a computer, printer/scanner, fax machine/phone line, charger cables, desk lamps and so on … that’s a lot of energy. And I’m guessing even the most diligent work-at-home person doesn’t spend ALL of their time in their home office.
So here’s a quick tip: when you’re setting up all of those electronics, plug them into a surge protector. This will protect your items from shorting should an electrical surge suddenly course through your wiring. And the best part? When you’re not using all those electronics you can turn the surge protector off, thereby cutting down on vampire energy, lowering your utility bills and your carbon footprint at the same time.
Conservation of Materials
As you can see in the photo above, not every office has to consist of a desk, filing cabinet, shelves, and a rolling ergonomic chair. When putting together your work/play space, look around for what you already have in your home and try putting it to good use, even if it’s not the initial intended one.
I’ve seen glass jars left from things like jelly, pasta sauce, and pickles used as organizers for pens, paper clips, and rubber bands. If your office space is close to your kitchen or dining room, just pull up a chair from your table instead of buying a new one. Use left overs of paint colors from other rooms to delineate your space from say, the hallway or the sleeping areas you might be sharing with.
Take a look around your house with a critical eye and put some of those otherwise decorative features to work for you. Because there’s nothing greener (environmentally or financially) than using what you’ve already got.
How about your office solutions? Anyone converted a closet, or found the perfect balance between work space and guest space? Let us know in the comments, and stick around for the next installment where we’ll tackle laundry and mud rooms.
Photo: Kelly Sue

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