Once I worked with someone who printed every single document she got. She had piles of paper at her desk, she even printed the meeting invites to write down the discussions she had with people in those meetings. It was a very ingrained habit.

Today’s post is about simple ways to save resources when printing.

What’s the issue?

Apart from the obvious facts like use of paper and ink, there are other less discussed issues when it comes to printing like the cartridges manufacturing process and the incorrect disposal of these products.

Several resources are needed to produce a cartridge, like plastic, steel and chemicals. According to EnergyCentral.com:

“When you produce a new laser cartridge, you consume more than three quarts of oil. For inkjet cartridges, you require about three ounces of oil… manufacturing just one single toner cartridge emits around 4.8kg CO2 Greenhouse Gases per cartridge”

Now, when all these resources are sent to landfill they can leach toxic ingredients into groundwater and soil.

According to PlanetArkAustralians send 34 printer cartridges to landfill every minute” and based on the same EnergyCentral article I linked above, a print cartridge can take up to 1000 years to fully decompose in landfill site.

Those are actually scary stats!

Is it really necessary?

In the world we live in these days full of technology everywhere, I think we don’t need to print that much. The most environmentally friendly action we can do is skip printing all together.

Sometimes we tell ourselves we really have to print that important document to review, or that particular information to pass a colleague, or that particular email to take to a meeting or those tickets just in case, but is it really true? I usually try to challenge those thoughts, because often it is not a real necessity but an assumption, a fear or a shortcut for my convenience.

Before trying to save resources when printing, let’s try to avoid it in the first place. Few things to consider:

  • Use tablets to read documents in a more convenient way.
  • By default use digital resources like emails, e-cards, electronic invoices, e-tickets.
  • If you use laptops at work, instead of printing documents/info for meetings, take the laptop with you.
  • If you only need a small portion of the information, like an address, instead of printing the whole page, write it down on your phone or personal notebook.
  • Use specialised tools to share documents and collaborate with other people. For personal use for instance, check Google Docs.

Despite all this, there are times when printing is really required, and that’s ok. Consider these ideas at home or at work to save resources:

Mindful Printing

1. Reuse paper sheets

At home, I rarely print on a brand new paper sheet. I usually store all the paper I get from unwanted mail that still has a clean side and I use it for everything, including printing.

The only word of caution is be careful with sensitive personal information, last thing you want to do is print something on an important letter with personal details and hand it over to someone. Always check what’s on the other side.

2. Buy 100% recycled paper

These days is quite simple to find 100% recycled paper in the stores, let’s support these businesses trying to reduce the impact on the environment.

At work, check what brand they use, if it is not recycled paper send an email to the right department suggesting they change suppliers and switch to recycled paper.

3. Use a an eco-font

Not long ago I discovered Ryman Eco, it is an environmentally friendly font that uses in an average of 33% less ink than standard fonts and it is actually quite beautiful. Check the video below:

Rayman font is free to download from their website. I have it installed on a Windows machine and it works quite well. It was super easy to install, the instructions are included in the zip file. In my case, I only had to unzip the file, find the “RymanEco-Regular.otf” file, right click on the file and select “Install”. That’s it.

Once installed, it will appear in the list of fonts available in your regular editors, like Microsoft Office. Give it a go!

4. Reduce the margins, spacing and font size

If I am printing something for my use or an informal information to give someone, I like to follow these simple steps:

  • Use Page Layout > Margins > Narrow to reduce the margins.
Reducing margins in Word

Reducing margins – Microsoft Word

  • Reduce the font as much as possible, trying to keep it readable.
  • Check the paragraph spacing to ensure the line spacing is “Single” and the spacing before and after is 0pts.

These 3 simple steps reduce considerably the amount of pages required.

5. Always use preview

When printing documents, use “printing preview” to ensure all the pages are organised in an efficient way. For instance, instead of having the last two lines of the paragraph occupying one page,  you can easily find ways to move them up and skip that page all together.

Also preview is useful to spot unnecessary information like covers, appendixes, indexes, photos etc. Remove the sections of the documents that you don’t need before printing.

6. Be careful with typos

When printing important documents you wrote, read its content several times on the screen before printing, that way you don’t have to reprint it. It sounds obvious but sometimes people prefer to  revise documents in paper before printing its final version.

7. Change printer settings

Instead of hitting the print button and using the default settings, check the properties and change the settings. Modern printers have a lot options to reduce the use of ink. Take some time to learn what’s available for that particular model.

For instance at work, I always print double-sided and 2 pages per sheet. That reduces the amount of paper a lot, for example, instead of 20 pages, I end up printing only 5.

At home, my printer is an old one (I haven’t upgraded because it is still working fine) but it still has an option to print grey scale and draft. It uses way less ink that the high quality printing option.

8. Avoid print content directly from websites

Websites are often not optimised for printing, so when you print you end up getting a lot of stuff you didn’t need in the first place.

Instead of printing directly from websites, copy and paste the information you need into an editor (like Microsoft Word) and then follow the tricks discussed above to reduce the amount of printing you’ll require.

9. Reuse your cartridges

When I lived in Venezuela, I remember we used to refill our cartridges instead of buying new ones all the time. There were many stores who offered the service and also it was way cheaper. Here in Australia, it seems it is not that common and for years I thought that was not a thing, but recently I discovered that there are some companies offering that service which I am keen to try when my cartridges need replacement.

Are there any places where you can refill your cartridges?

10. Recycle your cartridges

Last but not least, recycle your cartridges. In Australia, PlanetArk has a program called Cartridges 4 Planet Ark and it is quite easy to drop your cartridges for recycling.

You can use Recycling Near You website to locate what’s available near you= > Link

“To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy”- Clarissa Pinkola

That’s it for today. Let me know in the comments below what other strategies you use to reduce resources when printing is required. Please share the information if you found it useful.

Thanks for reading,