Last week three reports dropped (digitally) into my lap. They were all on the subject of what ICT needs to do to keep a lid on our impact on the environment. Each was well written and well constructed but they all came from the ‘carbon is the enemy’ perspective although, to be fair, none of them used those actual words. They referred to greenhouse gases, global warming or climate change.
I happen to believe that there’s a lot of well-meaning hype going on, especially around the carbon/climate thing. But I suspect it has been chosen as the only way to make the public sit up and take notice. And, with the ability to set targets and put regulations into law, governments will make sure that we have concrete incentives to take carbon-reducing actions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m utterly in favour of anything that will make this planet a better place (than it otherwise would be) for our descendants. It would be wonderful if it could be made better in absolute terms. But this will only happen if things other than carbon are taken into account. Water and the raw materials we use in manufacturing for example.
Take paper. According to various credible sources: a piece of paper requires the use of 98 time its own weight in various resources; in America the paper and pulp industry is the second largest consumer of energy and uses more water than any other industry per ton of product made; and office paper is responsible for 3.8 times its own weight in carbon emissions.
While reading one of the reports: The potential global CO2 reductions from ICT use, I noticed references to an organisation called GreenPrint Technologies. It provides software which intercepts pages en route to the printer, highlighting and removing unwanted pages (you can choose or it will guess). It can also divert print to pdf files, thus avoiding the printer altogether.
It works, in case you were wondering, I gave it the home version a bit of a hammering this morning with various types of print job.
Three versions are available: home, home premium and enterprise. The first, which is free, shows a couple of environmental ads: not too intrusive. The next is faster, comes with email support and can be used commercially. It costs $29. And the third provides reporting, print management and telephone support. A one-off licence is $70, but I presume multiple licences cost less.
As a first step to cutting your paper and ink/toner costs, this seems a good approach. And if you care about the bigger picture, a little bit of saving by your company can result in much wider environmental savings elsewhere. I’ll be sticking with it, for sure.