Manager, Product Marketing
Xerox Indirect Channels Business Group

It takes two to tango. When you’re talking about the office printer, you can separate the sustainability conversation into two main categories: the product, and how it’s used. Care to dance?

The printer. Engineers carefully select materials, optimize energy consumption, reduce part size and weight, or ideally eliminate the need for a part altogether. They create software with two-sided printing as the default setting, print modes that reduce toner usage, and more. Recycling programs for both supplies and equipment have been established to help prevent them from ending up in our landfills. We’re all working towards the same goal and you see this illustrated somewhere almost every day. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.

The User. Our connection with email and the web delivers information and with it the temptation or need to print is an everyday reality. Many studies have concluded the most significant impact to sustainability in office printing is actually in your hands – the person with a printer as close as your mouse or keyboard. With some estimates attributing up to 80% of the carbon footprint for a printer to paper alone, you can make the biggest change every day.

So what can you do? Regardless of how much effort governments and manufacturers put into sustainable office printing, it will be the people who use the products that will make the biggest difference. Never under estimate the power of the individual…yes you!

Here are some simple changes you can make:

1)    Choose a recycled paper. Higher post-consumer content means it’s a more sustainable choice. Xerox has several options available with 30% to 100% recycled content.

2)    Print on both sides of the paper. Cut your paper use (and cost!) by up to 50%.

3)    Reduce your margins. This can sometimes eliminate that extra page with only a few words or sentences printed.

4)    Consider a multifunction printer (MFP) instead. Xerox MFPs easily scan and save, fax, or e-mail your document further reducing paper usage.

If that last one sounds difficult, make sure to follow my upcoming series on scanning basics, advanced scanning, and how you can join the Jedi scanning masters. You can also check out more on sustainability and recycling programs. If you have a question or tip on creating a greener office, please share it with us in the comments section below.