Running a home office can be like a virus that gradually spreads throughout your space. Yet the more travelling is avoided and time is saved, the greener and more efficiently your initiative is running. And what is better than breakaway spaces in the garden for creative meetings or huddling around a warm fire for winter discussions? Our boardroom is a green canopy covered in Virginia creeper during the summer and basked in sunlight during winter months. Why would one want a sterile office environment and a battle with traffic, if this is the type of space that feeds your soul?
Of course I’m aware that the old establishment still raises eyebrows at home offices, but we are the new generation of environmental business, a service media organisation. So we have redefined news and we know that home is the best place to double up, if you should have sufficient space. Yet we were indeed running out of space with clumsy old office desks from the days before computers and home offices. Especially with kind volunteers arriving to help now and then.
So I called in the help of a space expert, Lisa Balz from Space Design who “turns vertical spaces into assets through intelligent design and functional layout of space,” which she says is as much an art as it is a science. As expert she knows that a smooth workflow plus efficient use of the space above guarantees less stress and increased productivity per square meter.
Using vertical spaces
Lisa designed us built in desks with shelves above to utilise the previously unused vertical spaces. Where previously two staff were crammed in one office, we can now comfortably seat 4 in one of our offices – without falling over each other.
Of course we wanted minimum impact on the environment, so decided to substitute the usual wood, or chipboard (filled with toxic glues) and opt for boards made of recycled cardboard. These are manufactured in the Strand by a factory called Xanita, where I have seen incredible designs made of recycled compacted cardboard, called X-board.
Xanita manufactures and exports a next-generation range of high strength-to-weight ratio, resin-free, recycled and repulpable composite fibre boards.
Boards made of recycled cardboard
Chris Carver-Brown from Veneer Concepts used Lisa’s designs and created our desks and shelves with X-board, covered in a veneer, called X-board Plus. The product not only makes use of recycled paper-waste, therefore limiting the amount that enters landfill, but also reduces the cost of raw materials, embodied energy, transport and logistics. See their amazing products at www.veneerconcepts.co.za. Some earth conscious shops, like Woolies, have many of their shelving made of this super lightweight eco board, even though it’s impossible for you to see the difference.
Before getting all of this in place, we gave our office a fresh coat of … naturally, eco paint. There are quite a number of greener paints on the market now, who have removed the volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), lead and other toxic substances present in normal paint.
But we decided to use ProNature paint, based on their long-standing and consistent integrity and their guarantee that only natural elements such as beeswax, plant oils and extracts are used in the ProNature Wall Paints and Wood Finishes. So I am sure that this paint is non-toxic and locally manufactured by EnviroTouch. Talk to Sven Kröger at www.pronature.co.za or call him on 0860 105 299.
Green paint not locally available
I have to say I was very disappointed that I couldn’t find this paint on any shelves in the Helderberg area. It was supposed to be stocked by Benbel, but at both of the local branches when I asked them whether they have eco paint, the staff looked at me as if I was from outer space. So I tried to enlighten them a little and encouraged them to ask their managers to ensure they carry some earth friendly paints too. A separate shelf with the benefits clearly listed would go a long way towards educating the shoppers and in fact creating a need for this type of product. I trust that someday soon this will happen. We just have to ask and ask again. You have to be like a wet fly and always return again with your request for green products.
It took me 5 years to get our local supermarket to stock free-range chicken – and now they don’t only have the product, they also have it separately displayed with an explanation to those shoppers who are still in the dark ages. Now we’ve started on organic milk…
Thank you to all those who helped us create a comfortable green space in which we can be much more positive and productive. Optimal and friendly use of space is green and good for the earth.