To Print or Copy. How is the Question?


Paper is convenient, easy to use, and “disposable.” We reach for it, it’s there. We print or copy a few words, but not enough to fill the page. We set it aside, only to misplace it and have to repeat the cycle. There was a lot of paper use (and waste) through this process. How many times can this be done? Well, as many times as we allow it OR we can treat the use of paper with a new respect.

The way we use paper has an impact on the environment because wood pulp is used to produce printing and writing paper. The more we consume, the more trees, water, and energy are required to adequately supply paper consumption. Computers brought a new opportunity to conserve paper. They ended the days of retyping the same page with the once indispensable tool, the typewriter, and brought hope of achieving a completed page free of errors and dried White-out spots. It may not have taken a ream of paper to type your average page, but the amount of paper used was more than necessary.

Along with the new opportunity to conserve came the convenience of “clicking and printing,” which many of us do without a thought. There are times when we have to print and actually use what is printed, but often those pages are set aside to be read later, and are eventually misplaced causing us to print again and waste more paper. (Ah ha! The mystery of the origin of the paper pile is now solved.)

The same can be said for another modern convenience, the copier. With the push of one button, you can start and finish a paper copying job of 90+ ppm (pages per minute) before realizing that you copied the wrong page, or there was a typo on one of the pages, or the most dreadful, the toner ran low halfway through the print job. All of these instances require the need to repeat the copy job, which creates more wasted paper.

Here are a few tips to follow when printing and copying to help you reduce your paper use:

1. If the document, news article, etc. is on your computer from an E-mail or the Internet, then save the document as a file and read later.
2. Read before you print or copy. Proofread for errors (typos, formatting, etc.) and make all of your corrections on screen.
3. Print only the pages you need and not the entire document (ex: pgs. 2, 3, and 7 rather than pgs. 1-7).
4. Make double-sided copies and set your printer up to do the same when possible.
5. Share copies or make fewer copies available for distribution.
6. Complete online. Many forms and documents can be completed and submitted online. If you do not need to reference later, then go this direction.
7. Use the entire page. You can fit more content of a document on one page by changing the font, adjusting margins, and/or selecting/capturing only what you need to print (ex: combining the image of one page and the text from another page).
8. Reuse paper printed on only one side. Before tossing (recycling) a single sided print/copy job, reuse the blank, back side for another print/copy job or hand them over to your children to use for art work.

Reducing your paper use can also save you time and money. You will spend less time looking for that first copy you printed and save money because you will not need to buy as much paper.

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