How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Through Changing the Way You Print

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The ongoing environmental issues discussed in the media and elsewhere can seem so huge as to be incomprehensible. To the average man on the street, making sense of the potential implications of climate change is difficult – understanding what they can do to help halt the effects is even harder.

Although readers of this blog will be more than aware of the grave consequences of the damage being caused to our environment on a daily basis – and will be doing their bit to halt them – a great deal of the population will bury their head in the sand and leave it up to ‘the politicians’ and ‘the scientists’ to sort it out. 

What these people don’t realise is that doing your bit for the environment doesn’t necessarily mean making drastic lifestyle changes. In fact, there are plenty of little things you can do around the house and the office that, over time, can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. One such example is changing the way you print.

How Does Printing Effect the Environment?

You might not think printing the odd A4 sheet here and there would have that much of an adverse effect on the environment but there are some truly shocking statistics surrounding home printing and the environment. Did you know, for example, that 45.5 million used ink cartridges go to landfill in the UK every year? That represents a massive 70% of the 65 million used.

Beyond ink cartridges, wasted paper from misprints also contributes to printing’s adverse impact on the environment. It isn’t necessarily just misprints that go to waste either; useless memos or needlessly printed presentations also contribute to mounting waste problem.

What Can You Do About It?

So what can you do about it, beyond ceasing printing altogether? Well, there are plenty of ways you can limit the environmental impact of printing and most of them aren’t as drastic as throwing your printer into the nearest bin. In fact, a good deal of them will allow you to keep printing at your current rate!

Recycle Your Printer Cartridges and Paper

The most obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint is to start recycling your old ink and toner cartridges once you’ve finished with them. Well, it sounds obvious anyway; as the statistic above proves, not everyone has got on board with it yet!

Which is strange, seeing as recycling your cartridges is so easy. If you’ve purchased an ink cartridge in the past few months, you’ll have no doubt also had a bag bundled with it. This bag can be used to recycle your cartridge when you’ve finished with it; pop the cartridge in the bag, post it to the cartridge manufacturer and it’ll be recycled for use in new cartridges!

Another way of recycling your cartridges is to refill them, either by a professional at a store or by using a home refill kit. By doing this, you are reusing the old plastic casing of your old cartridge and thus reducing the amount of non-biodegradable and soil-polluting material sent to landfill. Oh, and you’ll save a few quid on your printing costs too!

It shouldn’t really need to be said in this day and age, but if you’re not recycling paper then start. With paper recycling as easy as throwing something in the right bin, there really is no excuse.

Adjust Your Print Settings

Admit it; how many times have you finished a document and just hit print? The beauty of home printing lies in its simplicity but this simplicity isn’t necessarily the most environmentally friendly way to print.

Before you hit print, make sure to review your print settings. Is the document for internal or personal use only? Then print in draft mode, which prints the document at a lower quality but uses less ink. If your printer has the capability, printing in duplex mode (printing on both sides of the sheet) can potentially slash the amount of paper you get through by half.

It’s also worth reviewing the layout of your document before you print. Have you used colour unnecessarily? Could you condense a two-page design onto a single page? Also consider adjusting the margins of your document; while narrow margins don’t look quite as appealing as wider margins, spreading the content of your document further across the page means you can fit more on to a single sheet.

So can you hit print yet? Not quite. Make sure to preview your document first. Misprints are a primary culprit in paper wastage and can usually be avoided by something as simple as adjusting a typo or altering a layout slightly before printing. Previewing can help you identify such mistakes and ensure you use less paper!

Don’t Print; Go Digital!

You could also, of course, not print at all and eradicate your printing carbon footprint completely. Okay, so maybe not completely (the world will always need handouts of Powerpoint presentations for those who see presentations as nap time), but cloud sharing, PDFs and even email have made sharing your documents online rather than in a physical format much easier.  Before you hit print, consider whether you could share the file you’re planning to print in a different way.

With freak weather conditions becoming a regularity rather than an anomaly and the Polar ice caps melting rapidly, it’s essential that we all do our part to save the environment. Even a little contribution, such as changing the way you print, can make a huge difference in the long run!

About the Author: Christopher Smith is a regular writer for Cartridge World UK, specialising in the environmental issues related to printing and tips for saving money on ink and toner cartridges

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