Seven ways to help save the planet

In many small ways, every day, we can do our bit to reduce our impact on the planet.
Read time 4min 00sec

Look around: mountains, forests, rivers, sea, clean air ... that`s all we have. The degree to which we look after it will define how we and our children live.

Right now, our record is not looking good. As a species, we have polluted the air, fouled the rivers, torn down mountains in search of minerals and coals, devastated forests to plant crops and harvest timber, and brought thousands of species to the brink of extinction and beyond.

Man has not covered himself in glory when it comes to the environment, and unfortunately nothing in our past indicates that we as a species will improve our track record.

Faced with such a negative situation, we could be forgiven for despairing and saying there`s nothing we can do. But in many small ways, every day, we can do our bit to reduce our impact on the planet.

It`s not within my ambit to advise you on solar panels, or recycling kitchen waste, or switching to an electric car. Rather, I`m going to share some of the practical ways in which we can reduce our impact on the planet.

1. Reuse and cannibalise components from old equipment rather than make everything from scratch. It`s not possible to remanufacture the earth, but all companies involved in the manufacture of printers and copiers can design their equipment with remanufacturing and reuse in mind. This has critical benefits: less landfill, less electricity, less raw material ... and it`s also good for the bottom line, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

2. Encourage customers to return their used equipment through recycling campaigns.

3. Move to multifunction devices. Annual energy consumption of an office copier, four laser printers and a fax machine is in the region of 1 400kWh; that of a multifunction device no more than 700kWh. That`s a 50% saving, and in addition far fewer parts and less landfill to worry about in time.

4. Set companies realistic, achievable greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. It can be done - and as the firm reduces its greenhouse gases, so it become more energy-efficient. Again, the bottom line impact is tangible.

Set companies realistic, achievable greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

5. Reduce usage of paper. Every sheet of paper that is printed represents an impact on the environment, so every time you don`t need to print out represents a small impact on the environment. There are other ways to disseminate information: electronic data management, scan to e-mail, print-on-demand and distribute-then-print workflows. All are available. In addition, there is new paper on the market that retains printed content for just a day or two, and can then be reused. This represents an ideal option for many people, who print out an e-mail, refer to it once, and then discard the paper. When choosing paper, ensure it complies with global standards that focus on fewer trees, sustainability, less water in production, recycled content, less bleach and reduction of greenhouse gas emission.

6. Travel less - especially air travel - and telecommute more. Today`s technologies make it eminently easy and sensible to have meetings via conference calls, including video conferencing. And for every 100 to 200 people who don`t travel, that`s one airplane fewer in the sky - and air travel has been shown to be one of the greatest polluters of all when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

7. Choose toner carefully. Most people will simply buy a toner cartridge from one of the industry leaders without thought for the environment. But every industry-standard cartridge that is discarded adds significantly to landfill, poisoning of groundwater, and release of ozone and other gases - not to mention the high cost of manufacturing both the cartridge and its toner. Think a moment: every single cartridge you use will outlive both you and your children. There are alternatives: emulsion aggregation toner, for instance, uses extremely small particles which result in 50% less toner being used per printout, and around 30% less energy in manufacture. Similarly, solid ink technology results in 90% less wastage than standard laser printers.

All of these can be summarised in three words: reduce, reuse and recycle. And remember: every little bit helps, and taken together, these notions can make a huge impact, if everyone pulls together.

* Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

Rob Abraham

MD of Bytes Document Solutions

Rob Abraham is MD of Bytes Document Solutions.

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