9 Ways to Go Green in Your Workshop

A workshop with tools hanging on the wall above a workbench.

Going green can sometimes sound like an expensive and overwhelming project, especially when it comes to your workshop. Fortunately, turning your workshop or garage into an environmentally friendly space is easier than it sounds. From recycling old containers to using sustainable materials, here are nine ways you can go green wherever you DIY.

1. Temperature Control

Heating and cooling a large open space takes a lot of energy. To help lessen the energy consumption and load on your HVAC system, keep the blinds open to warm the room during cold months. In the summer, shut the blinds to keep the cool air inside.

2. Unplug Tools

A cord plugged into an outlet.

Take an inventory of which tools you use the most around the workshop and unplug the rest. The typical cordless tool can hold a charge for a year, so keeping them constantly plugged into a charger is a waste of energy. Furthermore, it only takes a few hours to reach capacity when charging them up. You can save a lot of energy by only keeping a few cordless tools on standby.

3. Recycle Containers

Plastic containers leftover from food items in the kitchen can serve multiple uses around the workshop. Clear containers are great for storing things like nails and screws. Containers that have a tight seal are good for storing solvents and will help preserve paints. Similar containers also stack up neatly and can help declutter a space. For added strength, double up the containers.

4. Reuse Sawdust

A handful of sawdust.

If you work a lot with wood, you know it doesn’t take long to accumulate a large pile of sawdust. But before you empty your dust collection system, spread a good amount of sawdust on the floor. Using a broom, push the sawdust around the floor of your workshop to pick up dust and debris. This trick works just as well as using a shop vac, without swirling dust in the air or using extra electricity.

5. Consolidate Lights

Lighting is an important part of any DIY workshop. However, the downside to using a lot of lights is that they tend to consume a lot of energy. To cut down on energy usage, consolidate smaller wattage bulbs with larger ones. For instance, a 100-watt bulb is brighter than two 60 watt bulbs and uses 17 percent less energy. However, remember to check your maximum wattage recommendation to avoid overloading a fixture, especially when adding more than one higher watt bulb.

6. Reuse White Paint

A ladder next to a can of white paint.

Instead of throwing away half-empty cans of white paint you’ve used over the years, combine them all in a large container to paint your workshop or garage. Be careful, however, not to combine oils with latex and vice versa. If you accumulate enough paint and add a semi-gloss coat to the finished product, you’ll walk away with a nice white that also cleans up well.

7. Reuse and Recycle Paper

If you use paper in many of your DIY projects, consider adding a recycling bin to your workshop. Store the bin next to your regular trash to help remind you to recycle the paper scraps. You can also complete the cycle by only using recycled paper. If you are running low on notepads, keep a collection of printouts and use the backsides as notepaper. (While we're mentioning paper products, consider donating your old collection of DIY magazines to a local library or dentist’s office.)

8. Use Sustainable Furnishings

A homemade workbench in a garage.

Purchasing used furniture or sustainable furnishings is an easy way to go green in your workshop. You can also build desks and workbenches yourself with repurposed wood or pallets and save a lot of money in the process. If you aren’t up to building something yourself, some companies make green furniture from recycled materials.

9. Go Into Power-Saving Mode

A lot of devices in the workshop draw power even when they are turned off. To limit unnecessary energy use, plug computers, and other electronics into power strips and turn them off at the end of each day. Take advantage of any power-saving modes on your machines, especially if they aren’t used daily. Further, avoid using a screensaver on your monitor and turn it off when not in use.