Printing Sustainably

Printing and publications can be a big user of trees and paper, ink cartridges and energy, as well as dyes, inks and bleaches. Below are some of the simple steps you can take to reduce the environmental impact of printing and publications in your workplace or school.

Reduce printing

How can print outs be replaced by online systems or reading on a laptop or tablet? Discuss with Management or your Principal shifting from printing and hard copy filing to online filing and cloud-based electronic storage. You can also encourage a reduction in printing with a note on your email signature, or sending colleagues a link to a online document or file rather than an attachment. It’s also useful to start measuring how much paper is currently being used, to help raise staff awareness. Just ask your purchasing team or administrator to keep a record of the number of reams purchased throughout the year, and share improvements with staff.

Double sided printing

Getting IT or administrators to set up default double sided printing on all staff computers will cut your paper use in half, as well as reducing the size of the paper stack you need to carry. An easy step with a big result.

Buy environmentally preferable paper

As well as recycling clean office paper, we need to purchase paper with at least a percentage of recycled content in it in order to create a market for paper to be recycled. With so much good quality paper out there we don’t need to use new trees for paper. Unlike the first iterations of recycled content paper in the 90’s, recycled paper will not jam your printer, be cream-coloured or flecked with fibre. Ask your stationery supplier for a sample of a range of recycled papers and then work with your purchasing team or administrator to make a policy of buying only recycled content paper. Once you’ve worked on reducing printing, the impact of a marginally increased price will be easily offset.

Work with your designer and printing company

Work with your designer and printing company to select environmentally preferable options such as recycled paper or card stock, FSC-certified paper, non-glossy stock that can be recycled, Total Chlorine Free or Elemental Chlorine Free papers, and vegetable based inks. Avoiding graphic design with full colour backgrounds will also save on ink use.

Make a tray next to your printer for paper that’s only been printed on one side, and encourage staff to print draft or internal documents on the other side or to use it for note paper. Notebooks can even be made by students or keen staff for use at meetings or events.

Reuse paper

If you know of other stockists/retailers/suppliers/services or all round fantastic sustainable sources please let us know so that we can share.