Have you ever wondered how to furnish and run an office space sustainably?
On one hand, setting up an office space sustainability is about making it easy for occupants to take sustainable actions. On the other hand, it’s about sustainable sourcing.
In this article, I’ll explain how we made certain choices.
We signed our contract 4 months before we were able to move in. In the meantime, we arranged a storage space and started sourcing our furniture. We knew we wanted to get as much of our furniture and homeware secondhand as possible.
We created a floor plan and started looking for the furniture we knew we needed on eBay Kleinanzeigen. We got a kitchen from a couple that was moving to Egypt, our meeting room table is a trimming table that a hobby tailor didn’t have space for anymore, our chairs are from an old school in the East of Germany. We lovingly sanded and oiled every single one of them.
Most of our homeware is our old homeware or was bought at the NochMall, a secondhand mall run by the city cleaning company BSR.
We’ve also bought some key pieces from friends in order to support local small businesses. Our meeting room lamp, for example, is from our friends Chmara.Rosinke. Our lunch table is from Terravinossa.
Our office is located in an old building. Our heating runs on gas. We believe it’s important to opt in for 100% green energy, which is why we decided to choose Polarstern as our supplier for both electricity and gas.
We’ve also connected WiFi-empowered sockets so that we can turn off our electricity when we leave the office in the evening.
While we have recycling bins in the kitchen, it’s also important that we reduce the amount of trash we produce. We have a bokashi bucket from Skaza to separate organic waste. Our waste bags are from Wildplastic because we think it’s worth supporting their cause – giving plastic multiple lives.
Obviously, as an office, there’s usually a lot of trash from food takeout and to-go coffee cups. We have several reusable takeout containers and a number of to-go coffee cups our coworkers can use to make sure no one has to pick up food or get takeout coffee in a throwaway container.
Additionally, whenever we order takeout, we order in Vytal bowls, a multiway system that delivers food in plastic bowls you can return to any partner restaurant within 2 weeks.
It was important to us to ensure our cleaning is done fairly and sustainably. Given non-toxic cleaning products aren’t standard in professional facility care (and after looking into our budget), we decided to hire a mini-jobber. We know most students lost their jobs during their pandemic, and it only seemed fair to pay someone directly to ensure proper insurance instead of fueling the gig economy and losing money to a middleman. That way, we can also control the type of cleaning products they use – mainly citric acid and natron.
With the coronavirus, having one single towel for everyone seemed like an irresponsible choice. But using paper towels didn’t sit well with us either. Because there are only seven of us at the office, we decided to assign a color for everyone and have an additional towel for guests. We take turns for laundry.
Our toilet paper is recycled toilet paper from Goldeimer. We use solid soaps because we know that bacteria won’t survive sitting on soap, which is why a solid soap is just as hygienic as any other soap.
We’ll also soon install a bum shower to offer everyone the opportunity to properly clean their bum without having to get wet wipes.
Coffee is a luxury item – yet one we’ve all become accustomed to, without realizing how precious this black gold actually is. It was important that we serve our coworkers, collaborators, and clients so-called third wave coffee – directly sourced coffee remunerated at a fair price and harvested under human conditions. Our coffee is from our friends at Balthasar.
In our kitchen, we make our own kombucha and water kefir, and have also added a secondhand soda stream so that we can offer sparkling water, too.
Which means we don’t need to order bottled drinks and most people think our drink supply is rather exotic. :)
With our office, we knew we wanted to make the sustainable choice the easy choice and so far we’ve been pleased with the results.