To print or not to print?

Submitted by Breanna Banford, social marketing specialist, Xerox Enterprise Business Group

Lately, it seems that businesses and employees are shying away from printing for fear that they’re wreaking havoc on the environment. In 2010, IDC reported that over 60% of large enterprises planned initiatives to reduce paper document volume (IDC report). Every page not printed makes a difference – less waste! It’s easier to print less because we have access to an electronic copy of almost everything we read on a daily basis giving us the freedom to read documents on our laptops, phones, tablets and so on.

Recently, in a WSJ opinion blog Chuck Leavell and Carlton Owen responded to the “to print or not to print” debate. Their argument: PRINT! This may seem surprising as Owen boasts the position of CEO for U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and Leavell is a tree farmer and environmentalist. But – they argue that it’s OK to print because “paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees.” In my opinion, that’s a good argument as long as people remember to recycle their printed documents after they’re no longer needed.

As we all know, Xerox is an honorable print technology provider. Part of our business is to promote printing, but the key factor is that we encourage responsible printing. Green blogger and author, Andrew Winston, discusses “The Big Heresy” in a recent article. He explains that Xerox works with customers to help them print less. It seems like a controversial situation for a print provider to ask that of their customer, yet sustainable thinking drives every business decision. Xerox works hard every day to research and develop new technology that has less impact on the environment (i.e. ColorQube and solid ink technology and managed print services).

At Xerox we often wonder what other people think about printing. About a year ago, Xerox posted a video on YouTube asking people on the street – Is printing good or bad?

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The commentary varies.  We all know and love the tangible aspects that come with a hard copy document. But, we also understand that printing too much can be wasteful. The point Xerox wants to emphasize is that everything we do has an impact and it’s important to be conscious of your actions. One thing to always remember – if you print… always recycle!

So in light of Earth Day, what do you think? Is printing good or bad?

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  1. jamie April 24, 2011 - Reply

    the sustainable resources argument i believe is the best. As any resource if it is used it should be recycled.

  2. C Yvonne Hickey April 26, 2011 - Reply

    Breanna, I posted the above video on Twitter when it became available last year and it sparked a number of interesting conversations… and was a very popular “ReTweet”! I am glad you brought it back into the spotlight in your recent blog. My mantra and opinion is “Print Purposefully” – you should not waste human capital, resources (like paper) or even time in a process by communicating poorly or excessively in print. Effective communication stems from quality design with an eye on the result (or response) you hope to achieve. It is also about making good choices along the way: printing locally, having a print management program, using recycled stocks, using devices that are green at their core and printing only what you need… to name a few. The rise of popularity in managed print services (MPS) in offices – when done well – drives print to the appropriate place, and builds a technological foundation from which one can reap many benefits – including in some cases… not printing. I chant with my customers daily: “Print purposefully… print purposefully. ; )

  3. Breanna April 26, 2011 - Reply

    Thanks for the comments Jamie and Yvonne! I agree with you both, it’s essential to be smart about the decisions we make – as individuals and beyond. The more conscious we are about our recycling efforts, the easier it is to make sustainable practices a way of life.

  4. […] proves the point – there are still times when there is no substitute for the printed page, wherever you are. Even though I had the ability to use my mobile device to board the plane, I […]

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