Reducing waste in the home office

This blog post is part of our “Room by Room” mini-series, where we look into ways to reduce waste across all divisions of a household. You can find all the articles listed here.


The home office is host to many plastic items; there’s just so much stationary that either only comes in plastic and has become popular over the years to the point that it’s just mainstream.

Pens, highlighters, markers, notebooks and plenty more have been made cheap and accessible over the years, by virtue of being partially made of plastic. And then there’s the packaging that they come in; sticky-notes wrapped in soft-plastic packaging (that can only be disposed off through Redcycle bins) or the bulk-packages that pencils/pens are sold on comes to mind.

Then, there’s electronics to consider. Australia, New Zealand and other Oceania countries are the highest per capita e-waste generators - when looking at your own home office, you’ll want to ensure your electronics are disposed of appropriately when they come to the end of their lifecycle (and that includes print toners).

Finally, there’s something to be said about wasting paper. While paper is widely recycled, with each tonne of paper diverted from landfill saving approximately 2.9 tonnes of greenhouse emissions, it is a lot better for the environment if you don’t use paper when you don’t need it in the first place.

So with all of the above in mind, what can you do?

As it happens, a lot!

1 - Stop buying plastic pens!

Realistically, chances are you have now collected more pens than what you’ll go through in a lifetime. And if you have to buy one, consider buying something that is long lasting, of high quality and that you’ll cherish. An “old-fashioned” fountain pen can last you a lifetime and it sure makes your handwritten Christmas card look a lot cooler. But even if you don’t write Christmas cards (or don’t like fountain pens), chances are you don’t need to buy another plastic pen in your life.

2 - Look for wooden or metal rulers if you need them!

Plastic rulers offer a feature that wooden/metal rulers don’t: they can be transparent. But if you don’t really need them to be in plastic then don’t buy them in plastic. You’ll be doing the planet a favour.

3 - Coloured pencils are better than highlighters.

There will hardly be a scenario where a colored pencil can’t achieve the same thing a highlighter would. Plus, they’re wood not plastic - so much better for the environment! Pencils will last you significantly longer; you just need to keep sharpening them, so you’ll probably get much better value for money there.

4 - If you don’t need to print it, don’t print it.

And if you do print it, try to fit in as much content in as few pages as possible. On that same train of thought, whenever possible, find a new purpose for those old prints that are no longer in needed; your 2-year-old-child won’t care what they are drawing on (sadly, that means the walls too). Paper is ultimately a resource that we are drawing from the environment, so be mindful before you waste it, repurpose it where possible and recycle it once done with.

5 - Drop your e-waste at OfficeWorks

Hopefully your electronics will last years before you have to dispose of them. But when the time comes, make sure to drop them at a place that can recycle them properly. PCs, laptops, keyboards, mouses, etc. aren’t just made of plastic; they contain valuable metals that can be given a whole new life, including gold and copper. They also can’t be handled in normal recycling facilities and they should never go to landfill, so pop to your nearest OfficeWorks and they should be able to dispose of them (including printing cartridges / toners).

Thanks for reading! If you can think of any other ideas to reduce waste in your home office, please let us know!