Daisy McCarty is the long-time blogger for San Diego-based Cubicles Office Environments. Her writing covers topics such as office furniture trends and tips, workplace ergonomics, product reviews, and industry news.
We’re all familiar with the 3 R’s of the environmental movement (reduce, reuse, and recycle). But did you know that there are actually 7 different R’s you can use to evaluate and manage your office furniture inventory? Here’s a brief look at each one.
The office furniture you buy plays a substantial role in the amount of space you need to lease. While employees do require a minimum amount of square footage to feel comfortable, they don’t need over-sized desks or workstations to get the job done anymore. Today’s flat screen monitors and the trend toward “paperless” offices means you can get away with much more streamlined work surfaces and fewer bulky filing cabinets than in the past. The less space you lease, the less energy you’ll consume for things like lighting and air conditioning.
The easiest way to ensure your office furniture doesn’t end up in a landfill is to simply hold onto it. The cost of storing your furniture during a move, renovation, or other transitional time is far less than the expense and time involved in getting rid of everything and buying new. If the items are still in good condition, consider leasing a storage unit until you are ready to redeploy your furniture.
When your office furniture has reached the end of its lifespan, contact the manufacturer for tips on how to recycle it. Some major office furniture companies are designing their chairs and workstations for rapid dis-assembly so that the parts can be sorted for easy recycling by category (aluminum, plastic, steel, etc.). Your local dealer may be able to help you find a suitable place to actually ship your old furniture for recycling.
You can give high end cubicles and other office furniture a new lease on life by having it refurbished. Take this opportunity to replace fabric and restore any damaged trim or other components. When the job is done right, your office furniture will look brand new and can easily last another decade or more. Some refurbishing companies will even give you a nice long warranty.
This is the most important step if you are ready to buy new office furniture. The choices for “green” or “eco-responsible” furniture are more numerous than ever. Look for BIFMA, Cradle-to-Cradle, and GREENGUARD certification if you want assurances that:
· Raw materials were sourced sustainably
· Energy consumption during production was managed appropriately
· Waste was minimized
· Non-toxic substances were used
Say “No!” to cheap office furniture that won’t last. There’s nothing eco-friendly about having to dump an office chair after a year because the seat padding has gone flat. Instead, commit to purchasing well-made items that will provide years of useful service. Choose modular furniture that can be expanded upon or reconfigured as needed. Remember, it’s always greener to buy an item that won’t become obsolete.
When it’s time to offload your old office furniture, see if you can get some money for it. The chances that your used items will be refurbished or retouched and sold again go way up if you sell them. You’re doing the planet a favor by selling your office furniture to a reputable dealer in your area. They can find a local buyer to give each piece a new home.