Recycling

Save on Ink and Toner with These 5 Simple Tricks

It’s about the most expensive liquid on the planet. Gold, oil, and even human blood cost less by volume than printer ink, so here’s how to squeeze every drop out of each cartridge.

In a 2007 study commissioned by Epson and undertaken by research company TUV Rheinland, it was found that many models of printers could still have as much as 60% ink volume remaining when the printer tells you to replace the cartridge! Epson commissioned the study to back up their claim that multi-ink tank model printers (which mainly only use individual color tanks for each primary color and black, some models taking up to 9 different ink tanks) are more efficient when it comes to wasted ink. In general, they are correct, as a printer with individual tanks typically will usually only prompt to replace the cartridge when it is actually close to empty, and it won’t prompt you that it’s empty if only one of the colors (as in the case of tri-color cartridges) is empty, even if the other 2 colors still have ink remaining.

HOWEVER (I made this big because it’s a HUGE caveat), they did not factor in the automatic cleaning cycles nor the dreaded priming cycle in the case of Epson inks specifically. These 2 automatic and unavoidable processes are done automatically at seemingly random times. There is surely an algorithm for when the printer should perform these things, as in the case of the priming cycle, this is always done immediately after a new ink tank is installed. This is the reason your Epson (or some Canon and HP models) will tell you you’re only empty of one color, and then when you put a new one in, it frustratingly tells you it’s empty of another color.

So what does one do?! We have a few tips that may help you wring out every precious wisp of essential paper-juice from those cartridges.

Tip 1: Spend less money on your ink and toner

“Well Chris, that was stupendously obvious, you think I didn’t already know that?!” Sometimes I wonder… Given how often I hear friends, family, and customers who tell me about their recent hassle-filled trip to Staples or even Wal-Mart where they spent 20%-60% more than they would have paid for equivalent quality ink or toner from us! Then I usually find out they still think the remanufacturing industry is still guys in a dank basement or garage injecting ink into barely usable cartridges.

Nobody selling similar remanufactured inks or toners still does this, the self-refill kit was an early-90’s phenomenon that doesn’t cut it still today. Today, in most cases, inks are re-chipped or reprogrammed in order to work and provide advanced ink level monitoring, and toners are rebuilt entirely with new or refurbished components which renew them back up to OEM standards. This means there is virtually no difference on most of our products how they will function when compared directly to the brand name OEM products, but with the goal of reuse and recycling EVERYTHING rather than building brand new cartridges with new materials. You can see how much you can save easily by checking our online web store here.

Tip 2: Buy high-capacity (XL) sized inks and toners

This may be more costly up front, which always hurts, but when you compare page yields, and calculate the actual cost-per-page, you’ll notice instantly that the high-capacity (or high-yield) cartridges are a better deal. As we touched on before, don’t even bother with the “Economy” sized inks, they are cheaper up front, but give you practically nothing for your money compared to high-yield cartridges.

Follow this formula: (Price of Ink cartridge) ÷ (Estimated page yield) = Your cost-per-page

HP #74 Black: Our price – $13.99 ÷ 200 pages = ~.07 per page
HP #74XL Black (High yield): Our price – $29.99 ÷ 750 pages = ~.04 per page

Clearly the high yield has a huge advantage of being almost half price of the standard yield when looking at the cost-per-page.

When we start to compare black ink as compared to a laser printer that takes black toner we see a larger difference (Tip: laser printers usually have much lower cost-per-page, particularly monochrome/B&W)

HP #74XL Black (High yield): Our price – $29.99 ÷ 750 pages = ~.04 per page
Brother TN-450 (High yield toner): Our price – $39.99 ÷ 2,600 pages = ~.01 1/2 per page

Give it a try yourself! Find your ink or toner here and then use this handy calculator to check how many pages you can expect.

Tip 3: Use a different font for documents you print

Surprisingly, this is an amazingly effective ink-saving choice. With the proper font, you could use as much as 40% less ink on the things you print!

In 2014, a student named Suvir Mirchandani began a science project that turned into a consulting gig for the US government and a published paper in a research journal.  He essentially studied four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. The clear winner was Garamond, saving as much as 24% ink compared to the others.

Another study of note is the University of Wisconsin program which switched its default font from Arial to Century Gothic (a nice little font if I may say so as a typeset nerd/fontophile myself) and it saved them an estimated 30% in ink and toner coverage.

Ecofont (Image Courtesy: Nat Geo Mag Blog Central)

We’ve also discovered a font that is geared toward only one thing: saving ink. It is very readable and uses a unique way of leaving voids in unneeded areas of each letter while still appearing to be a full letter. This font is called Ecofont, and you can discover how it works here. It’s pretty cool.

Tip 4: Avoid unnecessary cleaning cycles

Sometimes it’s unavoidable when the printer decides to do it on its own, but you don’t always need to run that print head cleaning cycle if your prints are looking funky, streaky, or “gappy” (those are all technical terms, wink, wink).

If your printer takes just 2 cartridges (a black and a tri-color), then you have print head-integrated cartridges, which means, as opposed to ink tanks, the print head is an integrated part of the ink cartridge. This makes the automated print head cleaning just an unnecessary waste of ink. Follow this video to see how to manually clean your print head on this type of cartridge:

HP_564XL_ink_jet_cartridges
A set of ink tank cartridges

If you have a printer with a fixed print head that uses ink tanks (see photo to right for examples), in most cases the automatic print head cleaning cycles built into the printer are the only

option to clear up poor print quality. But as ol’ Bennie Franklin liked to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To this end, we recommend printing something out on a bi-weekly to monthly basis.

Sounds simple, but why will that help? The #1 cause for poor print quality on an inkjet printer is due to dried ink clogging up the thousands of microscopic print head nozzles that dispense the ink. Keeping them in use before they have a chance to dry up is an easy way to keep this from happening. YES, printing something simple like Google’s home page will use up some ink, but it uses a smaller amount of ink than a full cleaning cycle, which (almost counter-intuitively) saves you ink in the long run.

Tip 5: Use “draft” or “Eco” mode for text printing (or if you don’t need high-quality images)

While every printer has a different configuration, and some do not have “Draft” or and Eco-mode (sometimes called ink-saver or toner-save mode), choosing this as your default print mode will definitely conserve more ink or toner. These steps should work on most printers to enable this mode on your Windows computer:

  1. In Windows, click on the Start button (Or press the Windows Key on your keyboard) and choose Control Panel.
  2. Choose Printers and Other Hardware from the menu that opens.
  3. Choose View Installed Printers or Fax Printers.
  4. On the window that opens, look for your printer’s name. Right click on the printer’s icon and choose Printing Preferences, sometimes Printer Properties.
  5. On the Print Quality tab, choose Draft or Fast (varies depending on the printer).
  6. If you want to conserve your color ink, choose Grayscale Printing on the same tab (just remember you’ll have to uncheck that box if you want to print something in color).
  7. Press OK. That’s it; now your printer will automatically print in Draft Mode (and in grayscale, if you chose that option) until you change it back. To change it, simply follow the same instructions and choose Standard for print quality.

We are extremely happy you’ve read up on our most coveted, super-secret tips for maximizing the life of your cartridges. Now that you know how to easily get the most out of your inks and toners, I can’t believe you’re not already looking to save even more money on the inks and toners you need! To help you out there, you can click the button below to start saving money buy buying high-quality eco-friendly supplies from us!

Buy high quality inkjet cartridges

If you have your own tried and true method of saving ink or maximizing the life of this very expensive commodity, we’d love to hear them for future revisions, leave a reply below!

Worlds First Plastic Fishing Company!

Cleaning up our waterways, Recycling Plastic bottles
Courtesy of Plastic Whale Project in Amsterdam

Fishing for Plastic, who the heck would want to fish for plastic? A group of people based out of Amsterdam have come up with what I consider one of the best darn ideas I have seen in a long time. It’s so simple you wonder why no one has thought of this before. There name: Plastic Whale, get it? Like hunting whales but they are hunting for plastic, genius.

OK, so here’s the business model, first the company fishes out plastic bottles and other plastic debris from the city’s numerous canals using simple nets and their hands, what ever works. Second, when enough of this trash is collected the plastic is transformed into material to make a boat. Holy Christmas what a great idea, but that’s not where it stops. Third, and this is the genius, the new boat is used to fish for more plastic bottles & trash that in turn will build more boats!

If this catches on it could turn into a monster of a business. Imagine if other countries started doing this and the boats got big enough to go out to sea.

Their goal, to rid the world’s waters of plastic pollution. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic trash is entering our waterways annually. My question is with all of the awareness out their of the harm plastic does to our environment who the hell is indiscriminately throwing plastic trash of any kind into our waterways?

The founder and captain Marius Smit is up to the task and states that he not only envisions a world of plastic-free waters but also a world where people understand that everyday trash, such as plastic bottles can be transformed into “a valuable raw material”.

This statement resonates with the efforts of Keller Slater who is taking the same concept but instead of turning plastic bottles into boats he is retriving discarded fishing nets and turning them into clothing. This same clothing can then be recycled and turned into clothing again. Hell it seems like these pioneers are on to something.

Since 2010 Plastic Whale has fished out more than 50,000 plastic bottles and over 10,000 kilos of various waste from the canals of Amsterdam according to Smit.

They have seven boats so far all made from recovered plastic and even give businesses and individuals plastic fishing tours, how cool is that.

Smit does not stop there, Plastic Whale takes the bottle caps and create beautiful mosaics on the floors of the boats. He started another company WasteBoards which makes unique skateboards from bottle caps.

His take on plastic and what he wants everyone to learn is plastic should not be regarded as valueless waste, but as valuable raw material. “The root of the problem, as we see it, is that people regard plastic as a disposable. We try to change people’s perceptions” Smit states.

All this indiscriminate discarding of plastic into waterways has caused a global problem in our oceans called “Plastic Soup” which is poisoning our sea life. It must stop and I believe Smit is on to something.

Knowing and understanding the problem is the first step. Be aware of what you are doing with your plastic when your done. Find out where to get it recycled responsibly. Support efforts like Marius Smit and maybe you could even start something in your state or country.

Bottom line, be part of the solution, not the problem. Whatever you do don’t throw any plastic into any water way thinking one bottle or one plastic bag won’t make much of a difference, it does.

We would love to hear from you and any ideas you have to stem the flow of plastics into our oceans or maybe you have seen or heard of someone else helping to solve this issue in a new way that you could share with the rest of us.

 

 

 

Where Does All of Our Electronic Waste Go?

We use our smart phones, our laptops, smart watches and all of the other tech gear out there and then when it fails or we just want to upgrade what do we do with the old equipment? Well if we are honest about it, most of us will put it in a closet or drawer and forget about it. Then at some point we rediscover these items and decide to just throw them out in the trash.

But some of us do the right thing and bring it to a recycling center. Have you ever wondered where a lot of this E-waste ends up?

Bit Rot said “About 80 percent of the e-waste produced in developed countries (North America and Europe are on the top of the list) is not disposed of in these countries, but shipped, most of the time illegally, to developing countries on cargo ships, where it is illegally disposed of.”

 

As our insatiable appetite for better & faster electronic gadgets grows the mountains of toxic trash continues to increase poisoning people and planet alike. The trash is not just old Blackberry’s and MacBooks, but includes old refrigerators, televisions, toys and more. Think of it in terms of if its electronic it’s sure to become outdated and thrown out to be replaced with newer, faster & better stuff.

 

Most of this e-waste is finding it’s way to countries like India, China and some African regions. “It is hazardous waste, containing dozens of substances dangerous to human health and the environment; it is hard to be sustainable disposed of and it needs a costly processing technique to make it recyclable” says Bit Rot.

 

Some illegal electronic waste does occur in the U.S.  but the appeal of sending e-waste overseas as always comes down to cost and fewer regulations. It seems we never learn and are always taking mother nature for granted. There was a time in the U.S. that businesses would just dump all of their waste into the nearest stream or river. In many cases the pollution was so bad we are still feeling the effects to this day. This has all but stopped but we are faced with basically the same scenario but instead of dumping pollutants into our own rivers we dump our e-waste into someone else backyard.

 

According to a 2013 United Nations report China is “grappling with the reality of an estimated 20 percent annual rise in domestically generated e-waste combined with a role as one of the planet’s primary dumping grounds for global e-waste—a massive environmental, social and economic burden.”

There’s a town in China called Guiyu that has become a major e-wastebasket. Workers burn or process tech gear with hydrochloric acid to recover valuable metals like copper and steel. In the process, it releases toxic heavy metals like lead, beryllium and cadmium into the environment. This has released hydrocarbon ashes into the air, water and soil thus polluting them in China.

Just about all of the salvaged junk ends up back in our homes according to one e-waste worker that CNN spoke to. The plastic gets sold to Foxconn, a Taiwanese company that manufactures products for many global electronics companies such as Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

“The commercialization process and the capitalistic valorization created a true ‘waste economy,’” Bit Rot observed. “This extends the logic behind profit and exploitation even to those scraps that it had produced, creating a never ending cycle that profits from its own death.”

This has become a worldwide problem that is going to take everyone’s participation to solve. The UN’s Step Initiative is tackling the world’s behemoth e-waste crisis. EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia told U.S. News: “serious concerns about unsafe handling of used electronics, especially discarded electronics or e-waste, both domestically and overseas, that results in harm to human health and the environment”.

Here at home you can learn how to responsibly dispose of your tech gear by reading EcoWatch “Are You Making These 7 Common Recycling Mistakes” . You can also find out if there is a e-cycling center near you by following the link.

If we all do our part I believe we can make a difference.

One way to help stem the flow of e-waste is to buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges for your printers. This industry recycles and remanufactures empty ink and toner cartridges thereby extending the life of these products. When you buy remanufactured products of any kind you are effectively keeping these recyclable products from ending up in the e-waste dumps of the world.

Before running out and buying the latest and greatest new tech gear is it possible to just upgrade what you have? Many times you can get the same results you are looking for by upgrading saving you hundreds of dollars and again helping to stem the flow of e-waste into our environment.

Now it’s your turn, what’s your idea on how we can all help with this global problem?

 

 

Biodegradable Plastics, Really Biodegradable?

So what’s the real scoop on this fantastic new product called Biodegradable Plastics that the manufactures are talking about? Is it really biodegradable? Does it really break down into harmless particles? Is it really the answer to the huge global problem that plastics have become to our environment?

When I first heard about this I thought to myself, wow finally someone comes up with a plastic like material that will break down in the environment. What a wonderful idea. Not so fast. Just with a little digging I find out this stuff does not break down as advertised and in some cases is even worse than the original plastic.

Conventional plastic takes a long time to break down. The problem is it never really breaks down and just melts away into nothing. It actually just keeps breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces into what is called microplastics and ends up in every nook and cranny of our eco-system including us after we eat fish that have ingested it. 

A report released by the United Nations looked into these so-called biodegradable plastics and it ends up the reality does not match the hype. When you read the fine print you find out that these plastics require long-term exposure to high temperatures around 122F, like those found in large municipal composters to actually break down. Problem here is there seems to be only about 100 facilities nationwide that will accept these “biodegradable” plastics according to a report by Mother Earth News.

So manufactures are making a product that they claim is biodegradable that is not. The BS just never seems to end. Think about it, if most of our municipal waste treatment plants will not accept this material for composting what the hell is this stuff?

The bigger question becomes where will it end up if not at the recycling centers? They will either end up in landfills that do not have high temperatures of 122 degrees or higher or in our oceans. To add insult to injury once these plastics are in our oceans the water actually reduces UV and oxygen exposure so they degrade even slower than they would on land.

No matter what the label states these so called biodegradable plastics will be around us for a very long time.

When all is said and done these so called Biodegradable Plastics are actually less recyclable than regular plastics and they can contaminate the feed of recycling plants. According to Peter Kershaw, one of the authors of the UNEP study: “If you’re recycling plastics you don’t want to have anything to do with biodegradable plastics because if you mix biodegradable with standard plastics you can compromise the properties of the original plastic.”

It seems this is just another example of some industries “greenwashing” a product so it sells. Unless they can make a biodegradable plastic that actually degrades under regular conditions and fairly rapidly without causing problems in standard recycling plants I’m guessing this product is not the answer to our plastic problem. In my opinion they should just be taken off the market because they are creating a whole new set of problems.

Why would any industry go through the time and cost of creating a product that will only add to the problem of global waste at a time when we are trying to reduce harmful products from our environment? Of course the simple answer is to make money but at what expense to our habitat and living conditions. 

I’ts nice to make money but at what expense. In the end these plastics will affect everyone including the CEO’s of these company’s. That means their family members will be eating fish that ingested plastic and the beaches they go to will eventually have plastic trash on them. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend the time and energy in inventing a real biodegradable plastic? Who ever comes up with this will corner the market and make a gazillion dollars.

Could you be the one that comes up with that idea??

 

10 Things You Can Do To Reduce Plastics In Your Life

I recently wrote an article about how pro surfer Kelly Slater is doing some fantastic work helping to clean up our oceans by recycling millions of tons of discarded fishing nets and turning them into clothes. He mentions in the article how all manner of plastics are finding there way into our oceans and killing marine life.

Admittedly the majority of us can’t go out and start a recycling business but all of us can help in the reduction of our use of plastics. Plastics of all kinds have become such a huge part of our lives that most of us don’t even think about it anymore. From the one use grocery bags to every single item we buy that is wrapped or contained inside of plastic.

It really has become a worldwide problem. It was looked on as a great invention when introduced and it really has changed how we live but at what expense?

I’m sure most of us recycle in our towns by separating plastics from paper etc but only a few types of plastics can be recycled by most municipal governments. And the small fraction that does get recycled still requires a lot of energy and water which just is not a good thing, kind of like robbing from Paul to pay Peter.

The plastics that can’t be recycled ends up in landfills and oceans and takes hundreds of years to degrade not to mention the toxins they release into the environment.

In the end the best way to stem the flow of plastics into our environment is for each and every one of us to start being conscious of what we are buying and what it is being packaged in and if there is an alternative.

Here are just a few ideas to start with but what we’re really looking for is feedback with your ideas of how to eliminate as much plastic from our lives as we can. Imagine if every person on the face of this planet followed these and other ideas about limiting the use of plastics in their lives what a positive effect it would be on our fragile environment!

A good example is the town where we are located, Northampton, Mass recently passed a ban on single use plastic shopping bags, you now have to use paper.

1. Bring Your Own Shopping Bag

Yes, the lowly plastic shopping bag. We’ve come to the point of not even thinking about these items but they are really one use items and end up in the waste stream. According to one estimate somewhere between five billion and one trillion bags are used each year around the world. That’s a lot of trash for an item that can easily be eliminated simply by bringing your own bag. I believe most us are just to plain lazy to do this but when you think about it it’s very easy. It’s just a matter of taking some time to figure out how many bags you would need and buy them once. Every grocery store I go to have these bags for sale so it’s not like you have to go looking for them.

2. Stop Buying Bottled Water!

This really is a no brainer. We have all been brainwashed into thinking that we need to buy the “pure spring water” they are selling us in bottles. It’s complete BS, in my opinion. Where do you think they are getting all the millions and millions of gallons of water that are in those bottles? From our aquifers of course. If you have a well it’s the same water you get from your tap. If you have city water I’ll bet it’s just as good as the bottled water. The real problem is the bottles, what does get recycled cost us a lot and what is not recycled, you got it, it ends up in the never ending waste stream. How about you just buy a bottle and keep it filled with water, problem solved.

3. Bring Your Own Thermos to the Coffee Shop

Did you know that most coffee cups you get to go are usually lined with polyethylene, a type of plastic resin. Yes the outside feels like paper but if it was all paper your coffee sure would not stay in the cup. So in theory you can recycle plastics and paper but when you put them together like this most places lack the infrastructure to do so. Oh and don’t forget the lids and stirrers, both made of plastic and the coffee vendors that still use polystyrene foam cups. By bringing your own coffee mug to get filled you can avoid adding all of these waste products to our environment.

4. Choose Cardboard Packaging Where Ever You Can

When you are shopping there will be many times that you actually have a choice of buying a product that is packaged in a paper product instead of plastic. I’ll admit this is sometimes impossible but at least give it a shot. Paper is very easy to recycle and if it does end up in the landfill it degrades very rapidly compared to plastics.

5. Drinking Straws

These innocent looking products are completely useless and unnecessary but have become such a mainstay of our everyday lives that we don’t even think about them. These are single use items that always end up in the trash and never in my opinion are recycled. You don’t need a straw to drink your beverage so be proactive and tell your server that you don’t need one.

6. Microplastics In Facial Products

This is one I was completely unaware of. Much of the plastics that end up in our oceans and are inadvertently consumed by marine life are called microplastics. Microplastics are commonly added to consumer products like face wash and toothpaste. These tiny beads are intended to exfoliate which they are great at accomplishing but most wastewater treatment facilities are not able to remove them from the water. There are many biodegradable alternative products that can replace the ones you now use, just avoid the ones that have “polypropylene” or “Polyethylene” on the ingredients list.

7. Ditch That Disposable Razor

I never really understood the need for a disposable razor but I guess it’s just another way for the manufactures to sell more product. It just make more sense to buy a razor that takes disposable blades once and then only have to buy the blades. By doing this you are reducing the amount of plastic you are contributing to the waste stream dramatically. All disposable razors are mostly made of plastics.

8. Switch From Disposable Diapers to Cloth

I can just hear the wails from this one. Yes disposable diapers are easy to use, they don’t need to be cleaned and save so much time. They also are contributing an immense amount of waste into our environment and as far as I know there is no process that is available to recycle them. I don’t have scientific numbers to back this up but if you think of all the baby’s in the world and that most of them are using disposable diapers there must be million of tons of these ending up in our landfill every year. The disposable diaper was invented in 1948, unveiled in 1961 by Procter & Gamble and by 1970 American babies went through 350,000 tons of diapers!

9. Plastic Storage Bags

These little bags are great for so many things, from putting our lunch sandwiches in to freezing food in. One really easy way to reduce your use of plastic is to reuse these items. Unless you have stored a meat of some kind in them they can be washed and reused many times over.

10. Cutting Down or Eliminating Period Waste

Believe it or not there are a number of non-disposable products out there that can cut down on period waste like the Diva Cup, the Ruby Cup and the DIY-with-pride Reusable Pads. Using any of these products will reduce incredible amounts of plastic packaging that most pads and tampons are encased in.If you need a little more encouragement to switch Treehugger has an interesting article about Ruby Cup helping African schoolgirls who can’t afford disposable products get much needed supplies by what they call their “Buy one, Give one” program. If for some reason you are not in a position to give up tampons, consider skipping brands with plastic applicators.

So there’s 10 idea’s. Now it’s your turn. Let the rest of us know what you do to stem the flow of plastics into our enviroment.

 

Creating Clothing Made From Ocean Trash by Pro Surfer Kelly Slater

If you’ve been following us you know we are all about recycling and doing whatever it takes to reuse & recycle any and all products to help our environment in any way we can. So when we see someone pushing the envelope and finding new ways to use something that is a nuisance and hazard to our environment we are thrilled and want to shout from the rooftops.

There’s this pro surfer dude, Kelly Slater that has come up with the cool idea of using old discarded fishing nets and turning them into clothes! Now that’s thinking outside the box.  He went out and created his own company called Outerknown.

The label features a line of 100 percent recyclable clothing made from reclaimed fishing nets. “I created Outerknown to smash the formula” Slater said. The material his company produces from the fishing nets is called Econyl, a new type of nylon yarn that comes from old discarded nets, carpets and other nylon waste. The brand, Evolution Series includes board shorts and jackets.

if that’s not enough these clothes can be up-cycled over and over again into new clothing. “There are an infinite number of times the nylon can be broken down and re-born into new yarn without the loss of quality,” Outerknown noted on its website.

Figuring out a way to take what is waste and recycling it to create and build a business is cool in its own right but there’s more to the story that makes this business model so great. According to the Marine Mammal Center, abandoned fishing nets, also known as “ghost nets”, account for approximately 10 percent of all marine debris. Would you believe that a staggering 640,000 tons of these discarded nets are added to the oceans yearly? My first thought when I read this was what are the fishermen or whoever is discarding these products thinking of!

Not only are these nets bad in so many way’s to the ocean environment but these nets are a major plague on marine life. More than 100,000 marine mammals, fish, dolphins, sea lions, seals as well as birds die every year from the harmful effects of plastic fishing nets and trash in our oceans.

Slater has been outspoken on the threat of plastic waste for some time now and sits on the advisory board of the Sea Shepherds Conservation Society.

On an interview with CNN Slater had this to say “You have problems like not only oil spills and that kind of stuff but also the constant outpouring of plastics. Single use plastics all through the ocean, degrading, turning into little bits that are all eaten by the sea life, and they’re dying because their stomachs are full of stuff.”

Granted the Outerknown collection is on the pricey side but to produce a truly sustainable clothing line cost a lot more money to bring from the factory to the rack than the normal way of producing clothing. Outerknown has partnered with the Fair Labor Association which is the best standard for protecting workers throughout the supply chain. Additional, the clothing company has partnered with Bluesign, which is a sustainable textile auditing company that seeks to eliminate harmful substances from the beginning of the manufacturing process.

Kelly Slater has taken a really bad situation and figured out a way to turn it into something good. You can’t get much better than that.

Gee, I wonder what other waste is lurking out there that someone could turn into a usable product thus eliminating it from the environment? Any Ideas?

10 Tips To Help You Green Your Office

Going green is fast becoming a way of life for many of us at home but how often do we think of the offices where we work? If you haven’t really given it much thought now’s a good time to start. It’s easy to integrate simple routines into your work day that will help all of us to lessen the impact we have on our Eco-system. Contrary to the popular belief that going green will cost you more, the reality is you usually will save money in the long run. So let’s take a look at 10 simple ways to go green in the office.

 

1 – Shut down Computers & Printers When Not Being Used

Just about all of us in just about every business now use computers; it has become our central tool. We all too often forget how much energy these machines use and leave them on. Optimize the energy settings on these and other devices can save a lot of energy over the long run. You can set computers to their energy saving settings while using them and shut them down when you leave for the day. Don’t be fooled by the “standby” setting, the unit will continue to draw power in this mode. Don’t forget the printers, same thing, turn them off when leaving but remember to power down ink jet printers because they need to seal the cartridges. Let’s make this easy, put everything you use at your desk on a power strip and just push one button when leaving and your done!

2 – Go Paperless Wherever You Can

Even though we sell Eco-friendly ink and toners for printers we don’t pull any punches and will always give you the best thing you can do for the environment. You should go digital where ever this makes sense for you. There are plenty of ways to go digital now with products like Dropbox (make this a link). By using this product you can save just about everything you used to print and store in a file cabinet in electronic form. Anyone in the world that has access to the product can open the files contained within.  Depending on the settings you chose other members of your team can view them, edit them and add or delete files.  Using software like this you not only save on paper but also on office space because you greatly reduce the amount of filing cabinets you need. One other piece of software that helps on saving paper is a product called Greenprint  (make a link to this)which helps to eliminate blank pages from documents before printing.

3 – Choose a Font That Saves on Ink

Your first reaction may very well be like mine, how much can just changing fonts save me. It can save a ton! A company called Ecofont has a product that can save you up to 50% on printing cost. Ecofont leaves small holes in each font that is not visible to the naked eye thus saving on ink. There is also other options you can choose that saves paper by printing without unnecessary images or printing only small selections from a long email conversation. Saving 50% on any line item cost in your office is a big deal by anyone’s standard. They offer three versions, Home Edition, 3-Pack and Enterprise edition. This is probably the easiest and most cost effective way to save paper, ink, and money in your office.

 

4 – Use Smart Power strips

The use of Power Strips on all of your equipment will help to curb the “Phantom Load” which can save you a surprising amount on your electric bill. Just shutting off your laser printer when you’re not using it, for example, could save you as much as $120 annually. Imagine if you have a fleet of laser printers and you did this to all of them, the savings can really add up

5 – Electricity Monitor

Go to your local hardware store and get an Electricity Monitor. Some local libraries will even loan you one so you can see where the energy hogs are in your office. Again for just a few dollars you could very easily save hundreds every year.

6 – Switch to LED Light Bulbs

This is an obvious one but it’s so important it belongs in the top 10 ways to green your office. Change those light bulbs to the new LED light bulbs. They give the same light for less than one-quarter of the electricity and can last for up to 20 years. Yes they do cost more than a standard light bulb but how long do they last? This one is really a no brainer.

7 – Buy less stuff!

Reduce, re-use and recycle. This is a tough one for many of us but by buying less we are helping to lower our carbon foot print. All the products we buy have to be manufactured somewhere and where there is manufacturing you can bet there is some form of pollution going on.

8 – Avoid Unnecessary Printing

Only print what you absolutely need to. If you really take a look at what you are printing you may be surprised at how much you print a week and then toss the printed material in the trash. Any web page or document can be saved to your computer or in one of many cloud based services.

9 –Choose Eco-friendly office supplies

Before buying office supplies the next time take a few minutes and see if there is an alternative that you can buy that is Eco-friendly. There still seems to be a misconception out there that if you go green it will cost more, that is not always the case.

10 – Repair Your Computers

Repairing your computers is a great way to go green and save you a ton of money. Our generation seems fixated on always having to buy the newest and the fastest. It’s amazing the upgrades that can be installed on computers to being them back to better than new condition and run faster to in many cases for much less than it would cost you to buy new.

We truly hope some of these suggestions will get you going on the path to a greener office and as always we would love to hear from you on how you have taken steps to go green in your office. The way I look at it if we all share our ideas it makes it easier for all of us.

The Day The Printer Died!

Can you imagine a day when we no longer have to cut down millions of trees a year so we can produce paper for printing? In my humble opinion that day will come. Back in the late 80’s and early 90s there was a lot of talk about the “paperless office”. The personnel computer was here and we were then introduced to the ink jet and laser printer which could be connected to the computer. What a marvelous invention, gone were the days of the electric type writer and all of the manual corrections that went with that form of printing. Now we could create documents that were easy to correct & save to a computer. But wait, now we could also print just about anything we found on that new platform, the internet. So instead of ushering in the paperless office we created offices that were producing much more printed pages than before.

 

So what happened was simple, when you make something really really easy to use people, will use it more and more. I have no scientific proof for this but I know it to be true. Think about it, before ink jet printers we had the electric typewriter and of course we made mistakes. Mistakes back then were corrected with a thing called whiteout ink or tape. For those of you too young to remember the whiteout ink was in a small bottle with a tiny brush. When you made a mistake you would have to stop, back the paper up in the printer, dab some whiteout on your mistake, blow on it to make sure it was dry, manually turn the paper back to the position of the mistake and start typing again. And then came the next great invention, whiteout on a roll, roll your mistakes away. Even with the fastest typeset this was still slow going. The end result, you only printed what you had to.

 

With the modern ink jet or laser printer we connect it to a computer that has a program installed that lets us type using our computer & keyboard. Making a mistake now means you simply go to the mistake, hit the delete button and retype. Spelling error, no problem, run your spell checker. Want to know how many words in that document, easy, run your program that checks the word count. The boss wants multiply copies, no need for carbon paper anymore, just enter the number of copies you want and presto, out they come on the printer. So what do you think happened to the “paperless office”? It went right down the tubes. People actually printed more, lots more, like crazy more.

 

This was not only limited to the office, when I got into this business in 2004 producing home photo’s was the rage. Kids would also print everything they seen when on line, I actually had mothers tell me their kids were using up all the ink they were buying on this. Not to mention the mothers were printing every recipe they seen and who knows what the fathers were printing, fishing tips maybe. A printing craze ensued.

 

That’s then and now is now. Here’s my point, even though my business Ink & Toner Solutions is in the business of selling ink and toner cartridges for these printers, what I would like to propose is kill your printer. I know you’re sitting there thinking this guy must be crazy, he’s advocating something that would potentially kill his business. That may be but what’s the right thing to do?  CVS did the right thing when they stopped selling cigarettes. They lost millions in revenue, this was one of their biggest profit centers but they made a hard decision and did the right thing. Selling a product that is killing people went completely against what CVS was all about.

 

When I started Ink & Toner Solutions my reason was to sell high quality Eco-friendly ink and toner cartridges that helps to keep them from ending up in the landfills. We do this by reusing the spent printer cartridges and remanufacture them to original specifications. It was my way of contributing to saving our resources and reusing and recycling a product. Well times have changes and there are better ways to save our documents than printing them and saving a hard copy. There are excellent products available to everyone from the individual home owner to a large corporation that will save and store any and all information you can think of.

 

In my next post I’ll go over some of the options out there that just may help you not to print so much and help to save some of those trees.

Best Way to Recycle Ink and Toner Cartridges

If you’ve been doing your part in the effort to recycle ink and toner cartridges and other small electronic devices but feel it’s burdensome, difficult to manage and don’t really like the idea of not getting cash back but rather reward points toward purchasing product from the company managing the recycling program, there’s now a better way. Continue reading

Is a Printer-Less Office a Possiblity?

I just read a short article in a trade magazine I get, The Recycler, asking the question is a printer-less office a possibility? Back in 1985 when I owned my first business and we bought our first computer and a printer to go with it I heard this same statement. The company that sold us the computer said that within 5 to 10 years at the most, we would be paperless! As he stated, why would you want to buy the paper, print it and then have to file and save it. Now that we have computers, you can just save it to the hard drive and that’s it.

As we all know that did not happen. Why? Industry figure Nathan Dube speculated on the concept of the paperless office in early 2012, noting that it was “a myth for the simple fact that human beings truly have an intense and emotional attachment to the printed page”. Funny, that’s how I felt back in 1985 when I was told we would be going paperless, I had a thing about holding that piece of paper in my hand. Not only that but if you are going over your financials isn’t nice to have paper in hand and a pencil to jot down ideas, notes and anything else you want as you are reading the numbers? Of course you do, try doing that on a computer. Or try telling a CPA that they are not allowed to print a hard copy of financials but will have to save everything to a hard drive or even better “in the cloud” and notice the reaction. I’ve had a number of bookkeepers and CPA’s work for me over the years and not one of them bought into this concept, period. As far as their concerned you have to have a hard copy and save it for 7 years. Yes, they do save to the hard drive and many of them now save off site in the cloud, but not one of them that I have ever met will trust in that alone, print a hard copy is their motto.

Personally, I can think of many instances when I want to print what I have on my computer, like when I’m going through my e-mails in the morning and I see something from a customer that is going to take my attention by having to call him and discuss the issue. I print it out and make whatever notes I feel I will need before calling him. When on the phone I now have that piece of paper to jot down important points that are brought up during the conversation. This seems like a small thing in and of itself but you really can’t do this on the computer, Sure you could copy & paste the email into a word doc and have that window open as you are talking and make notes on the document that way, but it’s just not the same and besides, you can’t doddle with a computer. Sounds silly but again, human nature.

How about when you have a meeting? Sure you could bring you’re laptop to the meeting and you’re document saved in Word and reference that during the meeting. But what about the other people in the meeting? Oh yea, they could have their laptop and reference the same document that you have shared on DropBox. Still leaves the problem of people wanting to take notes as the meeting progresses which is pretty hard to do on a shared document, hell everyone is going to be taking notes and doodling on the same document, this is going to get pretty messy really fast. No, in this situation the best course of action is to print out the meeting notes and pass it out to everyone so they each have a copy and they can make notes as they wish. Save a copy in the cloud, of course. When the meeting is done you can go in, revise the document, everyone can see it and most likely will print it out so that they can follow up on whatever it is that needs to be done.

This is just a few examples that I can think of where I would want that printed piece of paper. I’m sure you can think of situations that you also want a printed piece of paper in front of you. Should we be careful of how much we print? Of course, going green means a lot of things now a day’s, it’s just not CO2 pollution. Saving on paper helps to save our forest and reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is used to produce that piece of paper. Like anything else in life, moderation is key. The day’s of printing any thing and everything just because you can are gone, be careful and only print what you really need. Will we bring this to the point of being a paperless society, I think not.

To be fair there are some companies out there that have saved thousands by attempting to go as paperless as possible. In the court case of Boris Berezovske v Roman Abramovich in Britain by virtue of utilizing cloud computing technology they managed to save five million pages. Not that’s saving a few bucks in the cost of the paper itself, not to mention what it would cost to store this much hard copy material for many years.Granted this is a large case with thousands of dollars that were saved but scale it down and the same system can be used on a much smaller scale. The point is paperless is great for some applications and not good for others.

In the heyday of the printer it was not unusual to find a printer on ever other desk in large offices, this is ridiculous and unnecessary. Many larger companies have done away with this and installed one or two large copiers per floor where everyone prints to those machines. But the point is that they print, why? Because they have to. Even if the company is using The Cloud and discouraging wasteful printing, office workers are still printing but only what they need. Need is the key word here, remember human nature, we like to hold that piece of paper in our hand. I don’t think that will ever change.

So one way to help our environment is to only print what you need to and use the cloud for storing and saving everything you can. Another way you can help save our environment is to use re-manufactured ink and toner. Our specialty at Ink & Toner Solutions is the aftermarket Eco-friendly re-manufactured printer cartridge. If you do use these brands of printer cartridges, you are recycling what would otherwise end up in the landfill. The cost and resources used to make a new printer cartridge is twice that of re-manufacturing what has already been made. If you are interested in trying these high quality cartridges you can order on line at www.inksolutionsma.com.