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How to set up a stylish home office without leaving your environmental values on mute

Photography By Karst, @noho_co, Crea-Re Studio
Published 25.10.21

Considering how much time we spend in our workspaces every day, and the 2021 reality that these offices are likely now in the home, it’s fair to assume we want to be surrounded by good vibes only.

That means different things to different people: $60 scented candle? Sure. Framed picture of Tony Soprano? You do you. 50-year-old Hang in There, Baby poster? A classic but we’ll take it. 

One thing you might not have considered is the environmental impact of home office accessories. With so much of our desk space cluttered with plastics and electronics, it can be a tricky area to turn green. Thankfully, a number of brands are designing products for the WFH office that are as environmentally conscious as they are stylish. Here are our picks for everything you need to transform your workspace into a sophisticated earth-friendly office fit for a CEO. And, yes, you can keep that Tony Soprano photo.

MONITOR  
HP

The first item you’ll likely notice on a desk is a computer monitor, and you’ll be looking at it all day. Currently, there are no alternatives to plastic in complex electronics such as monitors because it is necessary in casing, motherboards and cables. Where zero plastic isn’t an option, HP has created the M27fw FHD Monitor, made from 85 per cent recycled materials. Since introducing the range in 2016, HP has incorporated over 1,000 tonnes of ocean plastic into its products.

CHAIR  
Emeco

In 1944, American brand Emeco was commissioned to create lightweight, durable and functional chairs for World War II American navy warships. The Navy Officer armchair has stood the test of time and remains a popular home office addition today. Featuring a durable design and using a minimum of 80 per cent recycled materials, Emeco’s chairs have an estimated life span of 150 years or more. The aluminium frame also has a lifetime warranty; if it breaks, they’ll fix it.

@noho_co

Noho

Noho is a New Zealand company founded on the belief that living for the environment should be comfortable. It’s taken that motto to the extreme with the ergonomic Noho Move chair. It’s designed to flex forwards and lean backwards, providing support for all positions throughout the day. You can sit comfortably knowing your Noho chair is made almost entirely from recycled plastics such as reclaimed fishing nets and end-of-use carpets.

MOUSE 
Logitech

You won’t be able to take your hands off this ergonomic and recycled plastic computer mouse from Logitech. It’s made from 61 per cent recycled materials – which is double anything else on the market. As with monitors, sourcing a plastic-free computer mouse remains a future hope, but Logitech is removing plastic from old consumer electronics and transforming it into new products. That old flip phone that you threw away in 2005 – yeah, well, it might be a mouse now!

KEYBOARD 

Once again, finding a low impact, plastic-free keyboard is near impossible. With 85 per cent of the environmental cost of a keyboard attributed to its production, buying second hand is your best option. When purchasing, make sure all the buttons work, check for grit or grime underneath the keys and test connectivity if Bluetooth compatible.

MOUSEPAD  
Slash Objects

Designer and architect Arielle Assouline-Lichten founded Slash Objects with the desire to reframe how we think about resources and consumption. Each mousepad is handmade from post-consumer recycled rubber in New York City. Rubber isn’t necessarily the first material that comes to mind when considering stylish stationery supplies, but Slash could just change that with its knack for transforming it into attractive household items.

Oakywood

Oakywood

Scroll with style with this timeless and functional mousepad by Polish company Oakywood. Made from soft merino wool felt and Portuguese cork, the mousepad is biodegradable and durable. Through a partnership with One Tree Planted, Oakywood also plants a tree for every purchase.  

DESK LAMP
Anti

Mark Howells spent three years researching global umbrella waste. He found the average umbrella life span is only six months, that one billion umbrellas are broken, lost or discarded each year and that the nylon canopies may take 1,000 years to biodegrade. Looking for a solution, he created the circular design brand Anti: it upcycles old umbrellas and 3D prints recycled plastic to create stylish desk lamps. 

Though the lamps still feature a small percentage of virgin materials (currently 5 per cent), Howells is committed to reducing this figure to zero. The G4 LED bulbs fitted in each lamp use 90 per cent less energy than a standard light bulb (nice if you’re a night owl), and, at the end of its life, customers can return their lamps to Anti to be upcycled into something new. 

Crea-Re Studio

Barcelona-based designer Maria Fiter was inspired by the shape and style of water droplets when creating the Mizuko lamp. At a glance, the lamp looks like it’s made out of ceramic or painted concrete. But Fiter hand makes each lamp from papier-mache, using recycled newspaper and water-based glue. The colouring is a natural pigment, so these lamps are completely compostable when you finally turn them off.

DESK MAT

Tiradia

Handmade in Portugal by founders and friends Joana and Amanda, Tiradia’s cork desk mats are vegan, biodegradable, recyclable and practical. The mats’ material is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree – prolific in forests throughout Spain and Portugal. This process causes no harm to the trees; rather, it helps them grow stronger. Featuring a minimalist and stylish design, Tiradia’s cork mats will help keep your workspace clutter-free. 

Slash Objects

BIN 
Slash Objects

Once again Slash Objects performs a canny transformation, this time ironically turning trash into trash cans. Made from recycled rubber and brass, these bins can be used to dispose of office waste, or as a stylish pot for your indoor office plant. 

PENS 
Bamboo click pens

No WFH list is complete without the most common stationery item: pens. We probably don’t give our writing tools the thought they deserve: they’re often overlooked, lost, lent out, thrown away or simply disappearing from desks forever. Except they don’t disappear. Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens per year into landfill – nearly all entirely made from plastic. Thankfully these bamboo click pens are 100 per cent biodegradable – constructed from bamboo with cornstarch ink fittings.

Karst

NOTEBOOKS  
Karst

A tree-free journal? Karst has made it possible. The pages, which are waterproof and tear-resistant, are made from upcycled calcium carbonate – a waste product of the construction industry. This also reduces Karst’s carbon footprint, making it 60 per cent smaller than a wood-pulp paper equivalent. 

When it comes to notebooks and journals, there are a lot of great options. Some other standouts include Notely, Pangaia, Pictostone and these upcycled Tetra Pak notebooks.

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