The number one product of all business is waste and that includes journalists. Think of it how much do you waste? Well there’s electronic equipment, like computers, printers and cell phones, when they’re up for replacement, not to mention empty ink cartridges. Then there’s paper and pens. Add to this electricity, water (We all need to use the toilet.), heat and fuel. By cutting back on waste we keep more money in our pockets while reducing our environmental footprint.
Let’s take ink cartridges. Like a lot of things they’re made of plastic, which comes in part from oil. Most people tend to throw them out after the ink is gone. Even if you recycle them by taking them back to stores that accept them. It’s a waste. However, you can get more use out of them before recycling them and save yourself a bit of money if you take them to a place that refills cartridges. Cartridges can be reused from about1 to 5 times depending on the brand. You can buy kits or take it to a company that will refill it at about half the cost of a new cartridge. Some say that the quality isn’t a good a new one, but others say that depends on what you’re printing.
You can reduce your use of paper by using both sides. I like to print out drafts and rather than putting the paper into recycling right away I either use the other side for other drafts or write on it. With a pack of paper costing anywhere from about $6 doing this can soon add up.
While it’s very important that we take our old electronic equipment to places that recycle them, the way to reduce waste starts when we purchase them. Really think long and hard about what you want to the device for and do you really need it. I’m a desk top computer fan. When I bought a new desktop about 3 or 4 years ago I kept my monitor. It was a flat screen and it was still good and is now about 7 or 8 years old and still going strong. I use my computer to write, surf the Net, temporarily store photos I’ve taken on and to play computer games, like cards and Railroad Tycoon so I don’t need a whole of lot computing power.
Several years ago I replaced all the lights in my house, except one, a chandelier, with CFLs and I turn off my computer when not in use at both the computer and the power bar to eliminate phantom power. Doing this and other things helped me reduce my electric use by 50-60%. As LED lights become better I will eventually replace my CFLS with them.