Greener printing – tips on lightening your footprint

By: Matt Bird

Date: 13 July 2010

Environmental printing is no longer an oxymoron and there are steps you can take to be greener in your office. Simply couple these additional pointers with my cost saving tips and enjoy these additional benefits for both the environment and your wallet.

1 Page formatting

Getting rid of bold headers or text will cut down on ink usage for each page, especially in often-printed documents. You would be surprised how much ink and toner you can save by shrinking your letterhead by 20% or switching to black and white formatting! Further formatting such as reduced margins can really get the most out of every page you print and limit your paper consumption.

2 Content formatting

Efficiently presenting all the information on your pages is a great way to limit any paper and ink waste. Consider cutting down your font size and looking at physically thinner fonts (such as Century Gothic) to make the initial size of your prints smaller. Go even deeper and look at the actual content bring printed, is it presentational work or general office documentation? Can it be reworded or broken into short bullet points to be condensed on the page? This small amount of time instead of just hitting Ctrl+P will help you save paper.

3 High capacity cartridges

Quite a few machines now provide both standard and high capacity cartridges. In a significant number of cases, the XL capacity cartridges are no physically larger than their standard capacity counterparts; they have simply been filled completely. Purchasing these cartridges will give you cheaper running costs and fewer waste cartridges being generated.

4 Standby modes

Whether in your existing machine or finding it as a feature when browsing for a new printer, standby modes for laser printers are an amazing way to limit your energy consumption. Keeping the machine active and ready-to-print drains energy throughout the day, and finding a printer which limits power needed to maintain this state is inherently important for any green-aspiring office. With some machines using a little as one watt in standby, yet going from standby to print-ready within five seconds, you can save energy without experiencing delays in your office printing.

5 Turn it off!

Leaving the office overnight or for a weekend? Turn your machine off when you know it is not in demand and fully rid yourself of wasted electricity.

6 Finally, recycle!

6.1 Paper and packaging

Don’t just bin the draft documents you have printed, get an office recycling box and encourage the recycling of all your non-confidential paper, either for re-use on the blank side, or for pulping. Plus manufacturers now produce environmentally friendly packaging which can be thrown into recycling with the minimum of fuss.

6.2 Cartridges

Continue to your cartridges. Binning them after a single use should be a crime within the industry. Keep that plastic casing away from the landfill as long as possible by recycling. There are huge numbers of recycling companies in operation, and many will often pick up your cartridges free of charge and get them back in circulation after cleaning and reconditioning. If you have one of the few cartridges not valid for recycling then it probably means it has literally no technology within it, and is just a plastic casing. Just take it to your closest plastic recycling bin and do your part for the environment.

6.3 Your machines

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) direction manufacturers have to take responsibility for printers at the end of their life cycle. Make sure you get your machine collected when replacing your office workhorse and ensuring minimum material ends up in landfill.

Got any great green tips to add to this list? Leave your comment and help us all be better for the environment.

Matt Bird of printer cartridge supplier, StinkyInk