Top 5 Ways to Cut Printer Waste

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When you’re rushing to get this week’s report to your ornery boss, or making last-minute changes to a presentation you were supposed to deliver 10 minutes ago, the last thing you want to worry about is how much ink or paper you’re using in the process. Conserving paper and ink by printing more efficiently not only protects the environment, it also saves money. Going green makes good business sense!

Conserve Energy

Your printer may not seem like a huge energy drain, but multiply it by an entire office full of printers, and all of the large office buildings in the country, and the energy use becomes substantial. One of the best ways to reduce your printer consumption is by purchasing an energy-efficient printer. The most energy-efficient printers reduce energy usage, cut costs and help prevent paper waste. Look for a printer with the Energy Star label, which means that it has met the U.S. government’s requirements for energy efficiency.

Recycle, Reuse

Don’t buy new ink and toner cartridges each time you run out. You’ll condemn all of those used cartridges to centuries spent sitting in landfills. Buy recycled toner cartridges and remanufactured ink cartridges. Refill your cartridges instead of buying new ones. If you absolutely have to get new cartridges, drop off the old ones at a cartridge recycler. Many business retailers and printer companies have print-cartridge recycling programs in place. Buy only recycled paper, and recycle the paper you use. Make sure everyone at your company has an easily accessible recycling bin near his or her desk and printer.

Conserve Ink

Unless you’re printing out an important document for a client or presentation, use the draft setting in your computer’s print options. Printing in draft mode will not only use less ink, but it will also print more quickly. You won’t even notice the difference in quality. You also don’t need to print in color every single time. Color ink is more expensive than black ink is. Change your printer properties to print in grayscale, and you’ll save money on color cartridges.

Use Paper Wisely

You don’t have to stop printing entirely, but you can make better use of your printer paper. If you haven’t already noticed, each piece of paper comes with not one, but two sides. Why not use both of them? By changing your printer settings to double-sided, you’ll immediately cut your paper consumption in half.

Another great way to conserve paper is by using all of the available space on a sheet. Trim your margins back by changing the settings on your page setup. Just reducing your margins from 1 inch to 0.5 inch can cut several pages off a large document. One report by Penn State University found that the university could save 72 acres (291,373 square kilometers) of forest and more than $120,000 a year just by reducing margin settings throughout the campus [source: UC Davis]. You can also fit more onto each page by changing your Word preferences to print multiple pages per sheet.

Think Before You Print

The best way to conserve paper and ink is to not print in the first place. If you don’t absolutely have to print something, don’t do it. Convert documents to PDF form and e-mail them. Save your documents on your hard drive or portable drive instead of printing them. And have your computer set reminders for you or send them to your personal electronic device instead of printing hard copies of your calendar or events.

Web pages are among the biggest paper wasters. Sometimes a single Web page can produce 30 or more pages when printed. Get in the habit of reading pages online instead of printing them.

credit: howstuffworks