Earth Day: How Smart Printing Practices Reduce Environmental Impact

By John D. Gagel  |  Posted 2010-04-22

Earth Day: How Smart Printing Practices Reduce Environmental Impact

Today is Earth Day. Organizations of all sizes-from large enterprises to small businesses and home offices-should be looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact as they conduct business. No organization can afford to cut out printing altogether, but there are ways that can help them become smarter about how they print-today and every other day.

Forward-thinking organizations have realized that just buying a product that's dubbed green or energy-efficient is no longer enough. Today, organizations must go one step further and implement best practices about how they use their technology devices to promote a greener office environment. When it comes to printing, this means businesses must directly address the amount they print-and look for ways to print more efficiently.

The following are nine easy methods that any organization can implement to immediately reduce the volume of printed pages:

Method No. 1: Think if it really needs to be printed

Before anyone within the organization prints out an e-mail message, a document or a presentation, they should take a second to stop and think if it really needs to be printed.

Documents and e-mail messages can always be reviewed on the computer using tracked changes or shared with a colleague via e-mail for their review. Organizations that commit to only printing out final documents eliminate the waste associated with printing out multiple drafted versions. Also, reducing the margins in all text documents will fit more content on each page and reduce the total number of pages used.

Method No. 2: Use both sides of the paper

This one may seem simple but, whenever possible, print on both sides of the paper. Many printers today offer a duplex or two-sided printing option. Leveraging this function is easy, and can reduce the amount of paper and cost of paper supplies.

Method No. 3: Leave out the ads

Internet ads always find a way to sneak from the screen to the paper, wasting valuable resources. Ensure that the printed version of Web pages only includes the text; eliminate pictures and ads that can take up a lot of space and ink. Use the free, smart printing tool bars that are available and allow you to only print information you need.

Method No. 4: Save your ink

While ink and toner can be costly, higher-yield cartridges can save businesses more money and reduce the printed cost per page. Printing in draft mode also significantly reduces the total amount of ink or toner used.

Recycle All Printed Pages

Method No. 5: Recycle all printed pages

Remember to recycle all printed pages instead of simply throwing them away. Also, if there is only printed text on one side of the paper, save those pages in a designated spot and use the blank side for notes. Use a designated blue box for this, placing the side with text facedown to make reuse easier.

Method No. 6: Make it last with longer warranties

Look for electronics with a longer warranty. If businesses can extend the life cycles of their devices, they will create significantly less waste and save money at the same time.

Method No. 7: Give (and get) something back with rewards programs

Before investing in printer purchases for the organization, see if the manufacturer has a rewards or loyalty program for supplies. These programs significantly reduce costs and reward the organization for purchasing and recycling original cartridges.

Method No. 8: Maximize your investment with wireless

Instead of purchasing multiple printers, hook one printer up to a wireless network and share a single printer for the whole office. Keep in mind, when the printer's life cycle is complete, the product can be returned to a dedicated collection point for recycling to further reduce environmental impact.

Method No. 9: Buy an all-in-one device

These days, there is no need to buy multiple office devices when businesses can purchase an all-in-one product that can multitask. Organizations large and small will quickly realize savings in the form of fewer trips to the office supply store and, of course, fewer devices to purchase. Additionally, consolidating devices equals less energy consumption.

John D. Gagel is the Manager of Sustainability for Lexmark International, Inc. John is responsible for Lexmark's global operational compliance and product environmental programs. John has more than 15 years of experience in the environmental, health and safety field. Prior to this position, John served as a consultant to many Fortune 500 companies on environmental, health, and safety-related issues. John is certified in the comprehensive practice of industrial hygiene by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). John holds a Bachelor's degree in biology from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Fredonia. He can be reached at

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