Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Printing in Disappearing Ink

I was a little confused when I first read this article, because I had just watched this cool video on how to make an invisible ink printing cartridge. (so cool!) But the buzz is really all about creative ways to save paper, not sending secret messages. Where invisible ink is still there, just invisible, this dissappering ink is actually a photo-sensitive chemical that fades with time, allowing you to reuse the same piece of paper over and over! Yes, it will require special paper and a special printer, but as the article happily points, there is an incredible amount of energy savings, because so much goes into the paper making process. The new method of actual printing is also very energy efficient!

Xerox was quoted in the article saying that "44.5 percent of documents are printed for one-time use and 25 percent of all documents printed get recycled the same day." And Lyra Research estimates that "15.2 trillion pages get printed worldwide a year, a figure that will grow 30 percent over the next 10 years." I am just sitting her imagining the countless pieces of paper that I print, use for a day, then toss, and how having a reusable paper would drastically reduce that number. But think of it on the scale of a medium-sized business! It would not only lower costs, and waste, but the amount of energy and resources that would be consumed would also make a significant drop.

I think for a person to have to make the decision, "Do I want to print this on reusable paper, or regular paper?" would also have a huge impact of how much we print in the first place. I know that it is often impulsive for me to push the print button, but if I had to stop and think about the paper type, I would also think more about if the item I am printing is really worth it in the first place. Or could I just e-mail it instead? Making reusable paper an option would not only save resources, but also make us more conscientious paper consumers.