Thanks to building designer Mark Iscaro from Firstangle in Victoria, Australia for his views on sourcing sustainable products for office use.
I’m sitting in my lounge-room, staring at my wonderful recycled brick feature wall, with my 7 year old couch sitting in front of it, and pondering how to freshen up my office (in my garage). I have carpet cut offs and old rugs down on the concrete acting as flooring – very ‘eco chic’ of me I know!
When setting up your office, be it for the first time or be it renewing old worn out furniture pieces, considering the eco credentials of the new furniture often plays second fiddle to price-driven decisions of most businesses. In saying that, there are options out there that are not only cost efficient but are also sustainably minded. You just need to know where to look in order to find the product.
Much like incorporating sustainable options within your home, incorporating them into your office can be rather daunting, but don’t despair, for I have some great ideas and suggestions on how and where to look to find those solutions within budget and with eco credentials in mind. Firstly we need to consider the options available to us. There are quite a few but we will focus on the four most popular sustainable choices.
The first option and usually the most cost effective option is to recycle and recondition the furniture you already have within your office. However if your business is a new start up this is often not a possibility, in this case you can look to second hand office furniture shops or even family and friends whom may have excess furniture that could be utilised as office furniture.
If however none of these options are suitable there are always the weekend trash and treasure markets. In Melbourne there are three or four decent trash and treasure markets that would have suitable recycled furniture. If you are not inclined to search through the stalls at markets you could also consider the good old second hand/antique shops (be wary as you will probably pay a premium here where as the market offers the opportunity of haggling for price).
There are other options out there however in my experience the ones suggested are often your best bet for quality product.
Renewed (Repaired/Rebuilt Furniture)
Another solution for the eco office is to take your existing damaged and broken furniture and spend some time lovingly repairing and renewing it to its former glory, Who knows you might get a kick out of it and you’ll certainly feel better about your eco choices afterwards.
Other options could be to find damaged or broken furniture in yard sales or even on the nature strips of houses when they have a hard rubbish collection. Just because it’s slightly damaged doesn’t mean it isn’t fixable.
Up-cycled (New Furniture From Recycled Parts)
Although if sifting through people’s trash and wandering through yard sales isn’t your thing there are plenty of crafty and creative geniuses out there who can turn old furniture or heck even pieces of random steel, timber and plastic into recycled masterpieces for your unique furniture piece.
Customised up-cycled furniture could be the spark your office needs. the centrepiece that sparks those interesting conversations and could even seal the deal on that project you’re chasing. So keep an eye out for craftsmen in your area.
New (Eco Friendly Furniture)
The last and probably most common approach for a lot of people not willing to step outside their comfort zone is to go for new furniture in the hope they are going to keep it for a long enough time to justify its purchase, however we all know that given a few dents and scratches (Or what I like to call character) it will generally end up in that pile that heads to the tip. So how about if you go down this path you consider the environment before you purchase.
There are plenty of companies out there who specialise in eco friendly office furniture, just be sure to check they are using material from reputable sources. Don’t be afraid to buy eco plastic. It is sustainable and sometimes more sustainable than the timber counterparts. These days most eco furniture looks exactly like its counterparts.
So I hope this little rant has given you the courage to step away from those mass produced office supply companies who care only about their bottom line and not about your office. Be adventurous and try something sustainable.