The Environmental Impact of Printing & How to Reduce It

Samsung SCX-3405FW Printer 5
Printers have come along way over recent decades, and they are now so cheap that they are a standard device in most homes and offices across the country. However, one thing we don’t often consider is that using printers has an impact on the environment. So what are the ways that we harm the environment through our printing habits, and what can we do to reduce them?

Environmental Costs of Printing

One of the most damaging effects of so much printing is the amount of paper that we get through. Despite predictions of the ‘paperless office’ going back as far as the 1980s, many people still use significant amounts of paper at home and in the office. The paper manufacturing process is often criticised for being harmful to the environment and using huge amounts of energy, without even considering the environmental cost of cutting down so many trees, so this is one of the major ways in which printing can harm the environment.

Even if you recycle your paper, this still has environmental costs. Clearly recycling is better than nothing, because paper that ends in landfill can emit methane, but recycling still uses energy that could be otherwise be saved.

As well as the environmental costs of paper, there is also the ink cartridges to consider. Many empty cartridges end up in landfill, with millions thrown away each year. There are even concerns that printers can affect the air quality in the rooms where they are being used.

How to Print More Efficiently

There are numerous ways in which you can reduce the environmental impact of your printing, whether at home or in the office. Here are a few of the best ways to go about this.

Make Your Office Paperless

Going paperless is easier now than it ever has been before, and it will help you to cut down your printing activity significantly. This could include:

  • avoiding printing off any emails.
  • printing off PDF documents instead of paper documents.
  • scanning documents and sending them via email rather than faxing them

Have a think about other ways in which you could potentially be wasting paper, and then try to adapt to new habits to reduce the amount of paper you use.

Print on Both Sides of the Paper

When you do have to print, try to use both sides of the paper where possible. This won’t cut down on the amount of ink you use, but it will reduce the quantity of paper you use.

Reuse or Recycle Your Cartridges

Some people choose to refill their ink cartridges, which helps to reduce waste. However, there are questions about whether it leads to lower quality printing and it may also void your printer’s warranty, so always consider this option carefully. Alternatively, recycle your ink cartridges using a service that you trust to process them in a sustainable way.

Change Your Font

Change your standard printing font to one that uses less ink. You may never have considered this, but some fonts are more ink-heavy than others. One of the best is Garamond, so consider using this instead.

Recycle Your Paper

Always recycle any paper that you use in the home or the office rather than throwing it away. There are schemes that you can sign up to in the workplace to make this easier, or simply keep a separate bin for all paper products and make sure that it does not get thrown into the general waste.

Print on sustainable materials

Whether its recycled paper or just paper that is resourced sustainably by being discerning about the material we print on we can help to reduce the environmental impact of printing. This goes for other materials too, for example when printing large formats like banner stands switching plastic frames for a sustainable material like Bamboo is likely to be more environmentally friendly (and also last longer!).

Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Printing is one of the most common activities in the home or office, but if you are concerned about the environmental footprint of printing, you can reduce the impact of this with ease. Follow the guidance above to reduce the amount that you print and improve your recycling habits, and you can start to reduce your impact on the environment.