More people than ever are working from home and therefore optimizing their home offices. The environment in which we work can make a big difference in how we feel mentally and physically, along with how productive we are. For that reason, we’ve put together this guide to help you create a non-toxic and sustainable office.
In it, we’re giving you all of our recommendations for non-toxic office furniture, eco-friendly stationary, and other sustainable necessities for creating a healthy work environment.
There is a lot in this guide, but remember: you don’t have to overhaul your office setup overnight! Simply take things one step at a time, use what you already have, prioritize, and try to have fun with it!
This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our material standards.
Featured Image Credit: Medley
The desk is probably the most important part of your office! We actually have an entire article dedicated to choosing the best non-toxic and natural desk for you, complete with our favorite recommended brands. You can check that out here.
Non-Toxic Office Chair
There is a lot to consider when choosing a non-toxic desk chair, too, which is why we’ve got a full guide for you on this topic, too! Just click here for our recommended brands for ergonomic office chairs.
P.S. If you’re looking for more loungy-type seating for your office guests, here’s our guide to non-toxic bean bag chairs.
Non-Toxic Bookcase and/or Filing Cabinet
Most bookcases are going to be made from wood… But just like with other wooden furniture, you want to make sure it’s made out of solid wood, not engineered wood. Engineered wood includes things like plywood and MDF and it’s very commonly used to make things like bookshelves.
The problem with engineered wood is that it’s actually made by gluing lots of wood pieces (like saw dust and wood chips) together to make it look like real wood. With all of that glue comes formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These toxic VOCs can slowly evaporate and leak out into your indoor air, where you then breathe them in. (This is commonly known as “off-gassing.”)
If you want to get a formaldehyde-free bookshelf, look for solid wood and non-toxic and/or low-VOC finish instead of lacquers and paints that use harsh chemicals.
You could also consider different materials such as metal and glass. These tend to be safe materials as well (especially if the metal is unfinished or painted with a non-toxic paint).
Here are our favorite brands for non-toxic bookshelves:
West Elm: This well-known brand has a lot of options in terms of sizes, styles, materials, and colors. They make it easy to sort according to your priorities, too: just go to “Sort & More Filters” and then check the boxes according to Fair Trade, Sustainably Sourced, GREENGUARD Certified, Handcrafted, and more.
ducduc: This brand is technically designed with kids in mind, but their bookcases will work in any room! They come in several different colors and sizes. Everything is handmade in the USA out of 100% baltic birch wood (which is completely MDF-free) and is finished with non-toxic, water-based finishes and glues.
Medley: This brand has a few different types of non-toxic storage units, including natural wood bookcases as well as closed credenzas. In addition to sustainably-sourced solid wood, Medley uses a few different types of low- and zero-VOC finishes and glues made out of water-based and natural materials such as beeswax. Plus, everything is handcrafted in California, USA.
MASH Studios: If you’re looking for the standard bookcase with the square compartments that you can put those cube storage containers in, MASH is a good option. These are made in the USA out of solid English walnut wood and a natural finish.
Masaya & Co: How gorgeous is this angular bookshelf?! Masaya & Co.’s sustainable furniture is made from solid wood (like teak, mahogany, and walnut) and finished with a water-based, low-VOC finish. It’s all handcrafted by artisans in Nicaragua, and 100 trees are planted with each order.
Vivaterra: This green-living shop has some great options as well, from your standard wooden bookcase to floating shelves you can hang on the wall.
As we mentioned in our non-toxic desk guide, it can be quite difficult to find a completely non-toxic anti-fatigue mat. They’re almost all made with synthetics of some kind (mostly petroleum-based foams). However, if you like to work standing up, anti-fatigue mats can make quite a big difference on how your feet and joints feel at the end of the day. The good news is that there are some better (if not perfect) options for less toxic anti-fatigue mats.
Fluidstance carries what they call a Springboard™ Active-Standing Mat, which is made from Baltic wood, natural wool felt, and recycled rubber. (The Baltic is plywood, which is not ideal, but it can still be considered a better option overall.)
The House of Noa is also a good option (and they have such pretty designs!). Their anti-fatigue mats are made from EVA foam and are tested against both the U.S. and E.U. standards for safety in terms of things like heavy metals, lead, formaldehyde, phthalates, etc. They are also California Prop 65 compliant and are printed with non-toxic dyes and inks. So even though these are made with synthetic materials, they’re a much better option than most other anti-fatigue mats on the market.
And/or if you need even more support, you can put some eco-friendly insoles into your house shoes. We like Fulton —they’re made from cork!
In addition to their Springboard anti-fatigue mat, Fluidstance also carries Balance Boards (or Decks, as they call them) to stand on, which are “designed to allow your natural micro-movements to strengthen and stabilize your body, keep fluidity in your joints, burn extra calories, and keep you focused and alert while accomplishing great things at your standing desk.” They can be a fun way to work while keeping your body in motion throughout the day!
Fluidstance makes a few different varieties, which are made from bamboo, maple wood, and aluminum. (They also have one made from synthetic foam, but we don’t recommend this one as much.) They have a kids’ version, too!
Cushions & Lumbar Support
Another way to keep your body feeling good after a long day of being in front of the computer is to purchase an ergonomic chair cushion. Brentwood Home is our favorite brand, but you can click here for a few other options.
Office Chair Mat
If you need a mat to go underneath your desk chair, either to protect your hardwood floors or to give you some rolling abilities on carpet, go for an eco-friendly bamboo one! They’re pretty easy to find at places like Home Depot, Walmart, and Target.
Keyboard Mat, Mouse Pad, Coasters, & Desktop Storage
graf lantz carries coasters, mouse pads, tissue box covers, wrist pads, storage containers, seat pads, desk mats, and more. It’s all made in Los Angeles out of natural wool. These accessories are not only sustainable, biodegradable, and renewable, but they’re also odor- and stain-resistant and OEKO-TEX certified!
If you’d prefer a vegan option, Slash Objects is a great brand that makes desk mats, mouse pads, storage baskets, coasters, and more. It’s all ethically made in the USA out of recycled natural rubber.
Grovemade is a great brand to check out as well—they have a lot of different tools and accessories, from planters and pen cups, to desk trays and mouse pads, and a whole lot more.
Eco-Friendly Pens, Pencils, & Other Office Tools
Onyx & Green is a great brand not only for eco-friendly writing utensils but also other office tools like scissors, staplers, glue sticks, push pins, rulers, and more. They even have a bamboo wireless mouse! Their products are made from various recycled, non-toxic, plant-based and natural materials.
Sprout is also a good brand for eco-friendly pencils. They’re made from sustainably harvested FSC-certified wood with a non-toxic and lead-free natural clay and graphite core. After you’re finished with the pencil, you can plant the biodegradable stub, which contains spruce seeds!
Planners & Notebooks
For notebooks of various sizes and (super cute) cover designs, check out Decomposition. They carry spiral and perfect bound notebooks, loose-leaf paper, pocket notebooks, and more—and they’re all made in the USA from 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
Everyone has different priorities and needs when it comes to daily planners, but here are a few we recommend checking out:
Most laptop, phone, and tech accessories are made from a lot of plastic. Here are a few brands offering better options:
Pela is a great brand for compostable phone cases, AirPod Cases, phone grips, Apple watch bands, and other tech accessories. They’re made from a bioplastic elastomer and flax straw material, which has been tested to be safe and free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium and lead. They have a TON of different designs, whether you’re looking for a standard solid color or something more fun (Shrooms and Blooms, anyone?).
Parker Clay offers ethically made laptop sleeves, desk mats, pencil cases, and coasters made from natural, durable leather.
Native Union has a ton of options, whether you’re looking for covers and protectors for your devices or chargers and other types of cables. They do use some synthetic materials, but they also use a great deal of sustainably leather, natural canvas, and recycled synthetics. Their sustainability journey is a work in progress, but they lay it out pretty transparently for customers right here.
Oakywood also has some FSC-certified solid wood charging docks, headphone holders, Airpod cases, and more.
Speaker / Headphones
I don’t know about you, but I love listening to music while I work. It can help me stay focused, give me energy when I need a pick-me-up, or help me calm down when I’m having a stressful day.
House of Marley is a great brand for eco-friendly headphones and speakers—they have in-ear and on-ear as well as bluetooth and wired. They’re made from eco-conscious materials like upcycled organic cotton, upcycled hemp, recycled plastic, recycled rubber, bamboo, cork, and aluminum.
With as much time we spend in our offices, it’s important we have clean air. Unfortunately, indoor air pollution can be even worse than that of outdoor air! This is mostly because of, A) the amount of chemicals we bring into our homes and offices via furniture, cleaning products, etc., and B) because our indoor air usually doesn’t get circulated very much.
When it’s nice outside, opening the windows can be a great (free!) option to get air flowing. Investing in a good air purifier is a good idea as well. Molekule and Dyson are two good brands to check out.
Mugs & Water Bottles
Staying hydrated while you work is a must! I always have a huge glass of (filtered) water plus at least another drink by me throughout my work day, whether it’s coffee, tea, a smoothie, an Olipop, or something else.
Good old glass is always a good non-toxic and reusable option for drinks. Other good options include porcelain, ceramic, and stainless steel.
Try to avoid plastic if possible, even plastics that are labeled as “BPA-free.” Many “BPA-free” mugs are made with similar chemicals that aren’t necessarily any better (and unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know). Avoiding these types of materials is especially important when using hot drinks (heat can make the chemicals leach into your drink even more than they might when cold or at room temperature).
Here are some places to get non-toxic and eco-friendly mugs, water bottles, and other drinkware of various sizes, colors, and more:
Potted Plants & Fresh Flowers
Plants can make such a big difference in your work environment, bringing life and color into your day. I love having a fresh bouquet of flowers on my desk every once in a while, and there are usually various potted house plants scattered around me as well.
Bouqs is a fantastic option for ordering (GORGEOUS!) fresh and dried bouquets. You can order once or sign up for a subscription. Bouqs partners with eco-friendly farms that minimize waste, recycle water, and use sustainable and organic growing practices. And check out this article for more resources on finding organic and eco-friendly flowers.
The Sill delivers potted plants right to your door and they, too, offer one-time purchases along with a subscription-based model. You can filter according to what you’re looking for, whether it’s “pet-friendly,” “low-light,” “for beginners,” or something else.
When it comes to creating a non-toxic and sustainable office, remember: progress over perfection! Since it’s a space you likely spend a lot of time in, it’s important to create a healthy and happy environment as best you can. But that being said, there are a lot of things to consider! So just remember to take baby steps and make the best decisions for you.
All images belong to respective brands.