Updated 17 March 2013

Tree-friendly printing

Duplex printing takes minimal effort and is becoming standard in even dimly eco-aware offices the world over.

 Many workplaces have embraced the idea of the paperless, or, more realistically, the semi-paperless office i.e. sending copies of electronic documents whenever possible, instead of wastefully printing out masses of copies.

Despite this, however, global paper demand is still increasing; people are still fond of reading print off hard copies. On average, about a ton of office paper is used for every 10 employees annually, which equates to the felling of 18 trees per year.

There are still times when it’s very convenient to have a hard copy though, so when you feel you must make a multiple-page printout, at least ensure it’s printed on both sides – also called “duplex printing”.  This helps save on trees and paper, and reduces waste.

Most printers have an automatic or manual duplex printing function, and it’s easy to change your computer settings to activate it. Just go to “Print” and look for options to print one- or two-sided.

Manual duplex printers print all the odd-numbered pages first, then require a human to turn the stack around (a minor chore, especially considering it halves your print paper consumption) so they can print all the even-numbered pages on the other side.

The first time you do this, experiment on a couple of pages to make sure you’re turning them the right way up before you re-insert them in the printer. And then recycle your experimental pages, naturally.

Also, when printing a page, check for big gaps of white space, and reduce these where reasonable. Think of blank printed pages as acres of clear-felled forest...

Got a good green tip or event to share? Email me or post on the EnviroHealth Forum. If it's a planet-saver, we'll publish it.

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