Pimp This Printer

Tired of killing trees and guzzling ink? Try these simple steps.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


STEP 1: Downsize Your Print Job
In 2006, annoyed by all the paper waste he witnessed in corporate America, ProgressiveRx founder Hayden Hamilton launched a fresh venture: GreenPrint, his Portland-based firm’s eponymous software, lets you flag and delete unwanted pages from the printer queue—like those mostly blank pages of Web detritus that pile up at the office print hub. It’s no joke at big companies, where the average employee prints up to 10,000 pages per year, according to a 2004 study. In large offices, Hamilton boasts, GreenPrint can reduce paper waste by 14 percent on average. He’s been hitting up hardware and software makers about bundling GreenPrint with their products, and Xerox now offers it free with certain printers. If all goes as planned, the latest upgrade, specially tailored for corporate needs, will bring other Fortune 500 firms on board. Individuals, meanwhile, can download a free Windows version at PrintGreener.com.

STEP 2: Put Your Font on a Diet
Leave it to the Dutch to develop a font that uses up to 20 percent less ink—a carbon intensive commodity pricier than top-shelf scotch. On a relative’s hunch, Gerjon Zomer and his partners at Spranq, an Utrecht marketing agency, began tinkering with an open-source version of the popular Verdana typeface, imbuing the letters with negative space: tiny white stripes, stars, circles, and squares. Ink conservation competed with legibility—striped letters, for instance, used just half as much ink, but appeared fuzzy on-screen; in the end, the microcircles triumphed. Ecofont has limitations. You can’t blow it up much before the holes are visible, and so far, it’s Swiss-cheese Verdana or bust. But it’s also free, and within three months of its release, 500,000 people flocked to Ecofont.eu for a download. Its creators promise more to come. “We are working on an ingenious way to give every font its Ecofont variant,” Zomer told us recently.

STEP 3: Ignore Hewlett-Packard
Not long ago, HP ink cartridges bore a chip with an expiration date, after which the ink stopped flowing. Now the company’s printer software merely creates a pop-up warning that the ink is going bad and the cartridge needs to be replaced—even if it’s three-quarters full. HP marketing spokesman Thom Brown says it’s meant to prevent damage to the printer. But consumers who pay it heed are forced to waste ink and buy new cartridges that in some cases cost more than the printer itself. Eco- and cost-conscious folks willing to blow off the company’s advice can buy refurbished cartridges or refill their own with a syringe.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate