Before You Press the Print Button, Consider This
I have to be honest. In years gone by, learning about printers and print ink has never been on my priority list. Then some good-to-know information came my way that changed my printing practices, making them more environmentally friendly.
One such resource was a 2007 Lyra newsletter where I learned that printer hardware was expected to contribute 1 million tons of solid waste in this country alone that year and that pulp and paper companies are the fourth-largest toxic polluters of water. E-gads.
Following are a few green print-related tips that you may want to consider implementing at your library and/or home:
- Print only which necessary. Most important! I even put a post-it on my computer screen to remind me.
- Use your printer’s “draft” or “eco” setting whenever possible to save ink and printer wear-and-tear.
- Switch your computer’s default font (most often Arial) to Century Gothic, which uses 30% less ink according to the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.
- The printing industry now commonly uses a non-renewable source—petroleum—as a base in their inks. These inks also release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that end up in our landfills. Consider using soy-based or vegetable-based inks as they contain mostly renewable resources. Note: Vegetable-based inks were the gold standard for printing presses prior to WWII.
- Check your ink manufacturer’s material-safety data sheet to determine its VOC level. While most petroleum-based inks produce approximately 30% VOCs, some eco-friendly inks produce a VOC of 5% or less.
- Keep the plastic from ink cartridges out of landfills longer by refilling your ink cartridges. I’ve refilled my ink cartridges five or six times before the cartridge print head wore down. The refill process has improved dramatically over the years.
- When your cartridge is no longer usable, recycle it. For information on where you can recycle your library’s cartridges, go to Earth911—an environmental services company that offers end-of-life product solutions.
- Take the environment into consideration when purchasing a printer, including its energy efficiency rating and repair history. Right now, I have an HP printer with a single broken part but I need to replace the entire printer because the cost to repair it would far exceed the replacement cost.
One short blog post certainly cannot do total justice to a topic as important as this but I hope that it has opened the door a bit and left you wanting to know more!