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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Resist printing! (and save the world)

1:24:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

Well, if you don't save the world you will at least contribute to moving things in the right direction.
"The average daily web user prints 28 pages daily."
(Source; Gartner group and HP according to Wikipedia)
For about a year now, I have tried my best to live by my new "resist printing" principle. It has not been easy, but looking back I have been very successful in my attempts to change my behavior. Simply put, I print much less than just a year ago. I would estimate that I am definitely down to less than a couple of pages per day on average (I don't print very often, but occasionally I need to print a tender, agreement or such which raises the average).

The most effective way to force myself to a new behavior has been to make it harder for me to exercise my unwanted behavior. This is what I did:
  • When the black ink in my printer at home ran out out over a year, I decided not to buy a new ink cartridge. So from that point I could simply not print anything when I was at home.
  • When at work, I don't log on to the domain unless absolutely necessary. This means that I cannot print at the office - unless absolutely necessary, that is.
  • I assigned the “PDF writer” as the default printer on my laptop. So, if I happen to print by accident at times when I am logged on to the domain at work, it will be printed to a PDF file.
Of course, there are also things that I have done to make this change of behavior easier, such as getting myself a smartphone with Internet access, a mobile broadband card for my laptop, and as using Google Reader to consume most of the information I'm interested in (reading information in an RSS Reader is more optimized for screen reading than most sites). Anyway, key has been the ability to bring my information with me digitally instead of on paper, which in turn has required the ability to be able to connect to the Internet anywhere and anytime, and to access the information I need via the web. Today, thanks to new smartphones, 3G and Web 2.0 apps, that is definitely possible.

Another factor that has considerably reduced my consumption of paper is that we don't have a newspaper at home. Both my wife and I read all news online, except for an occational news magazine stuffed with great journalistic content (like the excellent Swedish magazine “Filter”).

To sum things up; we live in a digital age characterized by digital abundance when it comes to information. Almost everything that is printed on paper can be read online as well. Resisting printing and reading daily news online instead of on paper are two really low hanging fruits when it comes to saving our environment and reducing unneccessary water consumption (AND saving costs). We have really no excuse for not changing our behavior. Expecially if we consider the following:

One year's worth of the New York Times newspaper weighs 246 KG (520 pounds). (2)

Approx. 324 liters (85,6 gallons) of water is used to produce 1 KG (2.2 pounds) of paper. (1)

It takes 75,000 trees to print a Sunday Edition of the New York Times. (3)

New York's largest export out of the Port of NY is waste paper. (4)

It costs the Times about twice as much money to print and deliver the newspaper over a year as it would cost to send each of its subscribers a brand new Amazon Kindle instead (5)
In ten years from now, the newspaper industry as we know it today will be gone and printers at home and offices will be much less used. The fact that we today still read news on paper and print so much information that could as well be consumed online will seem incredible stupid. Our children will look at us and ask us what the f**k we were thinking.

References:
1. Environment Canada (from "
Eco Design Paper Facts" by iD2 Communications)
2. Purdue Research Foundation and US Environmental Protection Agency, 1996 (from "
Eco Design Paper Facts" by iD2 Communications)
3. North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (from "
Eco Design Paper Facts" by iD2 Communications)
4. What About Waste, Cornell Waste Management Institute, 1990 (from "
Eco Design Paper Facts" by iD2 Communications)
5. “
Printing The NYT Costs Twice As Much As Sending Every Subscriber A Free Kindle”, Silicon Alley Insider

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