Thursday, February 19, 2009

Irritating Green Tip #1

All over the place, on the web, in magazines, and in your utility bills, you'll see lists of "green tips." And some are great, but some irritate me. When I come across one that does, I'll blog about it, tell why it's not always a good idea, and suggest an alternative.

Irritating Green Tip #1: Print on Both Sides of the Paper

Supposedly a good green idea because it saves paper. But have you ever done this, and had the paper jam? Multiple times? If you have an expensive, heavy-duty printer that you can replace as often as the manufacturer recommends, maybe it's not a problem, but if you're like me with my little cheap home printers, and working for nonprofits that use office equipment for years and years: this is NOT a good tip for us. You waste much more paper, not to mention time and frustration trying to remove the jam than you would have had you printed one-sided in the first place.

Alternative idea: Print one-sided, but reduce the margins, spacing, font size, etc., or print two pages on one side.

I try to reduce my paper usage by reducing margins and font sizes (tip: the ubiquitous Arial and Times New Roman fonts aren't very readable when reduced. Better fonts to use are Verdana or Bookman Old Style). You can also reduce line spacing, from 1 (default) to say, .9, or character spacing by .1 also. It all depends on what it is, how good it needs to look. If I'm printing a grant proposal to be sent to a funder, I probably won't do any reductions. But if I'm printing something that is only going to be seen in-house, I will.

Also, if I'm just printing for my own reading pleasure, I print two pages on one side. Again, Verdana and Bookman are two very readable fonts, even when they've been reduced by 50% (which they will be if you print 2 on 1). Then, when I'm done with the document, I give it to my 3-year-old to color on the back or cut up.

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