Friday, April 29, 2005

Arbor Day--Here's to Keeping It Green

You remember when you were in school and when Arbor Day rolled around, you and your classmates planted trees around the schoolyard or in a local park? Those of you still so inclined might want to browse the site for the Arbor Day Foundation, where you can receive great trees for a small donation. Another great arboreal project to support might be to help revive the fortunes of the once-mighty American chestnut, most of them having been felled by disease decades ago, and find out why they were know as the redwood of the East.

My way of observing the day will be to save some trees, by saving paper. To get started recycling paper, you might consult one of the following practical guides: Xerox's Business Guide to Waste Reduction and Recycling, or the Office Paper Recycling Guide. Naturally, you want to complete the cycle by purchasing and using recycled paper, when you do use paper. I like the Xerox 100% Recycled Multipurpose Paper (20 lb.), which is widely available from Staples. I'm able to afford this slightly pricey paper because I've cut way down on both my use of paper and (expensive!) printer ink, saving money as well as natural resources when printing, especially when printing from the Internet.

Paper/Ink/Space/Money-Saving Internet Printing Tips
  • The first tip might be not to print from the Internet at all, especially from a site you're not sure you'll visit again. Instead, use an online bookmark manager service such as Furl or Spurl (both are free; you simply need to register and create a username and password). In addition to storing particular web pages, these services archive them (allowing you to create your own Wayback Machine, in effect), eliminating the problem of extinct links. Moreover, you can use them with most browsers, and on more than one computer--like portable bookmarks. (Thus, if your own PC is unavailable, you can sign onto the service on another computer and access your bookmarks from there. [Using Furl, you don't even need to download the software onto another computer--simply go to and sign in]).
  • One of the most frugal printing habits, if you still decide to print, is to always use the Print Preview, before (and after, when possible) hitting the "printer" or "printer-friendly" type button. It shows the entire number of pages in the file--and lets you know which pages are worth printing. Look at the first and last pages of the preview, so that you can find any mystery blank pages, or extraneous stuff on the first or last page that's not worth printing. That way, you can then specify which pages you wish to print, and leave any pages you don't want to print out of the print range. You can also check margins while in this mode and see if they need adjusting (especially if you notice that the endings of words are cut off near the right margin). If possible, place a Print Preview button on the toolbar of your browser for quick access.
  • Even if you're about to print from a PDF version of a document, peruse the first and last pages of the document before printing--they may be blank, or have information that is not relevant for your purposes; you can then also decide to specify a print range, and print from there.
  • Please get into the habit of using Ctrl-P, instead of using the Print icon on IE. This will allow you to choose the thrifty-printing options before printing. Often, clicking on a Print button immediately prints your file, with all the wasteful defaults. (One exception is the Netscape 7.xx Print icon, which always allows you to choose options first, and also contains the Print Preview feature for convenience). Another good practice might be to print from within the 'Print Preview' mode (which also allows you to select the frugal printing options).
  • Print using black ink when printing text. It's cheaper, prints faster than color, and you don't have to worry about running out of a particular color. My HP printer requires that there be both a color and black cartridge in the printer when printing, but I keep the color one empty and only use (and replace) the black one.
  • Unless you're printing the final copy of a resume, choose the 'draft', 'fast', or similar print quality print, for you probably won't notice much difference between that and the more thirsty print quality options. Plus, the file prints much faster using the draft mode, and uses much less ink.
  • Choose a double-sided printing option when printing more than one page. (HP refers to it as "book" printing). This option massively cuts the amount of paper printed for most files, by half for a file with an even number of pages! You access it from the Print menu's Properties button.
  • If printing a single page that you don't want to waste ink on giant mastheads or ads, after choosing the print-friendly icon (if available), highlight the text you wish to print, then Ctrl-P, click in the Selection button, choose the print quality, and click OK. Selecting text to print is also useful when you have a document that is, say, barely two pages long; by lopping off the masthead and ads, you can often make it a one-page file (putting less wear and tear on your printer). Selecting text is also useful if you wish to print from a site that does not have a "print-friendly" icon. Highlight the desired text, choose the double-sided, draft, and black ink options, and see how the page prints. Often, the site will print the pages just as you wanted. (This is where that middle scroll bar on your mouse comes in handy.)
  • Some final frugal moves for anyone familiar with bookmarklets might be to use one of the following: Hide Images, whenever the "printer-friendly" button still allows ads through, and Restore Selecting, if highlighting text on a site does not work at first.
Hope this helps ease your paper jam.

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