Research, Product and Packaging

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2008-11-07 Print this article Print


4. Does the Company Sponsor Environmental Research?

Another telling measure of how much a company cares about sustainability is whether it invests in research on the subject.  Xerox, for example, likes to point to its funding of environmentally related research at various universities around the world. 

One project, at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse, N.Y., is looking at ways to create biodegradable plastics from sources such as trees, switchgrass and corn stalks.  The eventual results of research like this could eliminate both the need to use oil for plastics and the problem of non-degradable plastics clogging the oceans and landfills.  Most large companies fund research.  Ask the companies you buy from if they have a program to fund research aimed at sustainability issues in particular.

View this video of 10 steps to a greener office.

5. What Has the Company Done Internally for Sustainability?

More and more companies are taking steps to increase their energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint and minimize the waste going to landfills. Find out what, if anything, the companies you deal with have done.  (And consider doing some of these things in your own company.) Possibilities range from simple things such as programming lighting systems in existing facilities to match work schedules all the way to designing new buildings from the ground up-or retrofitting old buildings-to be as energy-efficient as possible. 

6. What Has the Company Done with Its Products and Packaging?

It's also worth asking what steps a company is taking to increase energy efficiency, reduce the carbon footprint and minimize the waste going to landfills from its products.  It's certainly a plus if the model you buy has, say, an Energy Star rating. But it's even better if the manufacturer is committed to having all of its future products earn the same rating. 

Also ask if the manufacturer has made an effort to minimize package size and weight as well as increase the percentage of both recycled and recyclable material in the packaging and the products. Smaller size and lower weight let more products ship in the same physical space and with less energy cost per product. And, of course, the more material that gets recycled, the less is left over to go into a landfill.


M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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