Green and Save- Eco Printing

The Optical Journal - Optical News With Independent Views




Photo courtesy of



Paper, Paper everywhere and not a …..

In an ideal world, the patient would come in fill out all the forms in a device like UPS has, you hook it up to your computer, it downloads instantly all the contact info, HIPPA forms, insurance programs. No typing, no data input, no paper! We are getting there – but every time you think you have it wired, some new law comes into effect, where you have to produce paper. Plus the most necessary items such as business cards and letterheads have to be printed. Printing is costly- not only in the service, paper, ink, time spent and energy generated, but it’s costly to the environment. 

There is also some evidence that UV inks can cause skin and eye irritation. Why risk it any allergic and toxic reactions to your staff and patients, when for the same price you can use Greener Paper and Inks- for a more toxin free office. 

The key to saving money and the environment is to 1.) Go Paperless 2.) Print double sided 3.) Don’t print at all 4.) If you do print- use a Green Printer. 

Eye Bogglers

  • The printing industry is the single largest air polluter and the third-largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world after automobiles and steel manufacturing,” said Renourish Founder and University of Illinois Design Professor Eric Benson. “On a typical day, [printers] use trillions of gallons of water that must be treated for its toxic chemical content and released back into our waterways.”
  • Environmental Defense  estimates that producing one ton of virgin uncoated paper — which accounts for 90 percent of the United States’ printing and writing paper — requires three tons of wood, 19,075 gallons of water, and generates 2,278 pounds of solid waste.
  • White papers are bleached via a chlorination process that releases dangerous chemicals and pollutants into the water, according to sustainable-design Web site Renourish.
  • Adhesives, bindings, and foils used in printing and packaging make the add-on non-recyclable and going into landfills. 
  • Petroleum-based inks can cause lasting damage to the environment, leaching volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — which can cause cancer and birth defects — into the ground, contaminating soil, groundwater, and, upon evaporation, the air.
  •  Many of the solvents, shellacs, driers, and other solutions employed in producing film, printing plates, and cleaning the presses are toxic pollutants that can cause chronic health problems — including kidney and liver damage, and even death — among press operators, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

What to Do? (Tech Soup) 

  • Use paper that is 100 percent post-consumer waste (PCW), processed chlorine free (PCF), uncoated, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, made by renewable energy sources like wind or solar power (Mohawk Paper is a leader in this area), or even treeless (hemp and kenaf are two options).
  • Use vegetable-based inks or soy inks instead of petroleum-based inks. These alternatives are both low in VOCs and competitively priced. 
  • If using Pantone colors – avoid colors (mostly metallics and warm reds) that contain barium, copper, and zinc, which can cause health problems in humans. (Renourish offers free downloadable PDFs showing which Pantone colors are safe in itsink section.) Not all soy inks are created equal, however: Ecoprint’s Telschow advises using those with less than 2 percent VOCs.
  • Look for a printer that uses renewable energy sources. Telschow points out that Monroe Litho in New York operates solely by wind power; Ecoprint itself has gone 100 percent carbon neutral by buying renewable energy credits for the emissions they aren’t able to eliminate in the shop.
  • Try waterless printing, which eliminates the dampening systems used in conventional printing. Digital printing, which avoids the film and chemicals in traditional printing processes, is another good alternative.
  • Avoid using bindings, adhesives, or foil stamps in packaging.
  • Reduce the amount of inks you use by going with one- or two-color designs; you can also save paper by asking your designer to use standard press sheet sizes.
  • Familiarize yourself with industry standards. The Environmental Protection Agency mandates that federal agencies must use uncoated printing and writing papers containing at least 30 percent PCW content; coated papers must contain 10 percent, notes Dynamic G

FSCNew Leaf PaperChlorine Free ProductAmerican

Where to go?

All of the below listed companies offer online services. To find the closest printer to your office go to: 

A few more resources: 

SILMO 2022 - The Optical Journal