How do I Choose a Green Printer?

S. Gonzales

Finding and buying a green printer is much more difficult than it sounds. Even if a printer is marketed as being environmentally friendly, many manufacturers design their printers to liberally consume resources so that consumers are forced to buy replacement parts on a regular basis. Ink cartridges are one of the best examples of parts that must be replaced often. Instead of spending money on a new printer, consumers can easily turn their current printer into a green one simply by making a few changes to their printing habits.

Proofreading documents before they're sent to the printer can help conserve paper and ink resources.
Proofreading documents before they're sent to the printer can help conserve paper and ink resources.

Many consumers can turn a regular printer into a green printer by changing the way that they handle printing paper. Buying chlorine-free paper and recycled paper made with at least 30 percent post-consumer waste and recycling paper can transform an ordinary printer to a green printer. However, consumers should be aware that buying paper that is highly comprised of post-consumer waste can cost much more money than the alternatives. Printing only what is absolutely necessary also can result in an environmentally friendly machine.

Ink cartridges that contain soy and vegetable-based inks are much better for the environment and for the printer owner's health, because inks with petroleum bases have been known to contain carcinogens. Similarly, metallic and fluorescent inks have been documented as containing heavy metals, copper, barium and zinc. Of course, choosing a device that economically consumes ink is a good way to conserve resources, money and materials. Using a recyclable ink cartridge also is an option for those who want to save money and act in the environment's best interests.

Reducing the need to print is often easier than trying to find a green printer. Going digital is one of the best ways to minimize printing needs, but there also are simple habits that a printer can employ to become environmentally friendly. Proofreading documents before they're sent to a printer, reducing margin space, making font sizes smaller, minimizing document size and page counts and printing on both sides of a paper can turn a standard printer into a green printer by saving stacks of paper and ink resources.

Business owners would do well to use tools that calculate the impact that their printing and copying have on the environment. These tools can help business owners understand their use of consumables such as paper and ink and point out over-usage. Calculations can show how current printing practices contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and paper waste. When business owners realize their effect on the environment, they can begin to take steps to become green printers themselves.

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