Sustainable Printing: Saves Paper, Money AND Our Planet

Sustainability… This is a relatively new theme that is rife these days—in the media, in governmental affairs, and in business of all types and sizes. At its core, sustainability is all about finding ways to meet the needs of the present day without compromising the needs of the future. As this concept is generally positive and embraced by many, it is now seen to be important by staff members of all sorts of organizations. For that reason, many businesses are adopting environmentally friendly policies that help to reduce their carbon footprints and other negative environmental impacts.

IT Radix staff interest in this topic is so high that we have an ongoing Sustainability Committee that is reviewing ways that we can be less harmful to the planet as we achieve our goals. One of the first places this group focused on in our office is the use of paper and ink in our copiers and scanners. These machines can create a good deal of waste.

Addressing printing with an eye toward sustainability provides environmental benefits and can also help an organization reduce costs.

Here are some tips on how you can gain those benefits:

Hardware. It is important to keep current with PC and printer hardware.
Use an up-to-date computer with an Energy Star label and look for ones with cybersecurity tools built in to keep data safe. Consider a multi-function printer that scans, prints, emails, and copies. Place it in a shared area and remove local printers from individual offices. A single printer used more frequently means that ink is less likely to dry out and be wasted. Also, another hardware device that can cut down on your printing is adding a second monitor to your desktop. That way you can review a document on one screen and work with the data in that document on the second monitor, thus eliminating the need to print and waste paper!

Recycle and Repurpose. After printed paper has been used for its intended purpose, toss it in a recycle bin or use the unprinted side for scrap paper. Inkjet cartridges, which contain many harmful parts, can also be recycled. Unfortunately, the vast majority are simply thrown away, representing a significant ecological cost worldwide. Laser printers, on the other hand, are creating less heat and waste every year as technology improves. Additionally, ask your printer provider about the availability of recycled or refurbished cartridges and paper.

Is Print the Best Option? Many have seen the admonition to consider the environment before printing, but not enough of us heed this warning. We print out of habit, not out of need. Print your document as a PDF for future access. Or, use electronic signatures for important documents rather than the print-to-pen alternative. These options are greener and make it easier to keep track of documents!

If You Must Print. Print double sided whenever possible to reduce the amount of paper needed. Also, consider printing in black and white. B&W printing is better for the environment. Since monochrome printers use less ink cartridges than colored printers, less will end up in landfills.

We still need to print things; but with an eye toward sustainability, we can find the right balance that helps us move toward a more sustainable world. Contact IT Radix today for more ways to make IT work for you and the environment.

First published in our May 2023 IT Radix Resource newsletter