Earth Day: How Smart Printing Practices Reduce Environmental Impact

The largest portion of a printer's environmental impact comes from sheer paper consumption alone. In fact, up to 80 percent can be tied to the use of paper alone. In recognition of Earth Day today, Knowledge Center contributor John D. Gagel shares nine ways that you can begin an immediate reduction in the volume of pages you print-and your impact on the environment.


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.