If you spend a good amount of time in your home office, then you might want to consider how best you can green your work environment. Paper is one of the biggest sources of waste in every home office. While digitizing your work is really the better option for trees, there is no getting around the fact that certain documents absolutely need to be printed.
It is a good idea to look at your entire printing process to figure how you can make it more sustainable.
Find an eco-friendly printer
The first step to eco-friendly printing, obviously, is finding an eco-friendly printer. Ink jet printers in general tend to use much less energy than laser printers. They make a great choice for a home office or small business that does not have huge printing needs (for marketing or other purposes). Here are some eco-friendly printers that are available in the market today:
- Dell 1235cn Color Laser Multifunction Printer – This is one of the world’s smallest color laser multifunction printers that is Energy Star certified and RoHS compliant, which helps minimize its impact on the environment.
- HP Officejet Pro 8500 – This all in one printer claims to save 50% more energy than laser printers and is manufactured by a company that has taken significant steps towards saving the planet.
- Samsung SCX-5530FN – This printer has Blue Angel Certification a sought-after eco-friendly recognition based on their “resource-saving and low-emission”.
Recycle your printer and print cartridges
Regardless of which printer you actually end up getting, you cannot escape the fact that your printer cartridges need to be replaced on a regular basis. While you might be tempted to place your used printer cartridges in the recycling bin, this is not necessarily a good idea. Printer cartridges can be difficult to recycle, which means that there is a good chance that they end up in a landfill. Given that certain cartridge components can become toxic over time this is definitely something to avoid. Besides, many printer manufacturers can quite easily reassemble cartridge components into new equipment.
So what is the most effective way to dispose of your cartridges?
Well, you might try a recycling company like Waster Farmers or E-waste. Waste Farmers, a resource recovery company will pick up your used cartridges because they are in the business of finding productive uses for waste. With the belief that throwing discards into a giant hole is counter intuitive and costly to your bottom line and to the environment, Waste Farmers aims to achieve Zero Waste initiatives and divert as much waste as possible. More information at http://wastefarmers.com.
If you would like to take it a step further by raising funds for a local school or non-profit, then consider donating your printer cartridge to FundingFactory, a company that actually raises money for schools and non-profits by buying used printer cartridges from them to raise operational funds (for things like school supplies and operational equipment).
If your printer itself has come to the end of its life, then Waster Farmers can help, as can Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery, a nationwide electronics recycling service. Find out more about them at www.ewaste.com.
Buy locally sourced paper
It is always tempting to go for cheaper paper which is typically imported into the country. The problem with this is that imported paper, especially from China, carries a terrible environmental price.
According to Heidi Tolliver-Nigro, a writer for the Inspired Economist, Chinese paper producers cannot produce enough pulp to meet the demand for paper, so its factories import wood and scrap paper from elsewhere in the world, including the United States. They produce the paper, then ship it back across the ocean.
Stay up to date on latest news about green printing
Since there are constant changes in the world of printing, it is a good idea to stay current with research on green printing, especially if you do a lot of printing for marketing or other purposes. There are lots of online publications that provide research and analysis on green printing trends.
Heidi Tolliver-Nigro has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. An expert in green print marketing, and a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, she is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. Check out her regular column entitled “Greening Print Marketing“ at the Inspired Economist.