According to Duke University’s Center for Sustainability and Commerce, the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more garbage than most produced back in 1960. Many American states have adopted a sustainable recycling program. But what happens to the recyclables? For one, they are being repurposed to be used in offices.

An increasing number of offices are redesigning their existing spaces with recycled materials. The benefits are significant:

  1. You cut out the cost of new building materials
  2. You do not add to the landfill with all that extra waste that comes from manufacturing new office supplies.

Interested in a green redesign of your office space? Luckily you can now choose from flooring to furniture to office supplies—all made from sustainable, recycled materials. Check out some of the ideas for a green, recycled office.

Existing materials reused anew

Being creative with existing materials is a huge trend right now. It’s sustainable, green and, of course, cheap. Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great place to find used materials, plus PlanetReuse is a nifty little service that helps businesses find recycled/reclaimed materials. Ideally, if you’re sourcing building materials, look for FSC Recycled Material, which shows that it’s a certified, reclaimed material, or Recycled Content Certification from SCS Global Services.


Japan’s Hiroki Tominaga Atelie recently created an entire office made out of 130 shipping pallets. The price, $2,300. Since it was a temporary office space with expensive rent, the idea was to build something that was flexible and easy to pick up and move when the lease ends.

Office furniture made from recyclables

Office furniture can be made out of 2 kinds of recycled materials: Post-Consumer (waste that has become material for another product. Example: Soda cans) and Pre-Consumer (waste that is left over when producing something else. Example: Fabric scraps). A lot of furniture companies have jumped on this bandwagon as there is an increasing demand for green furniture.


Steelcase’s Think Chair consists of up to 28 percent recycled content, and itself is 95 percent recyclable.

Recycled office supplies

Stocking up the office cupboard with everyday supplies is easy in this day and age as there are green brands that actually specialize in it. From writing utensils to office paper you are sure to find stuff made out of recycled material.

Examples from Staples, the office supply company:

Paper and wood products: Forest Stewardship Council®, Green Seal™


Cleaning products: Green Seal™, EPA Design for the Environment

Facility supplies and food: BPI compostable, USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified™, Fair Trade Certified™

Furniture: level®, Cradle to Cradle™


Green-certified pros

Hire office designers who are green design certified. Builders with LEED certification are trained to design with the smallest ecological footprint—from sourcing sustainable building materials to creating structures with lower energy consumption. They also achieve higher levels of certification when they use materials that are 10 to 20 percent by cost recycled content. (image via Shutterstock)

Source: Michelle Lovrine Honeyager | Designing Offices with Recyclables | July 13, 2015 |

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