These days, looking for environmentally-friendly printers is easier than ever.
No, you don't have to seek out some holistic retailer that specializes in office chairs fashioned from corn stalks and reclaimed wood or refillable pen ink made from blueberries and flaxseed. Just go online or visit a local office supply retailer and start browsing.
Your No. 1 clue that a product is easy on the environment is the Energy Star logo, but there are plenty of other features that can put a machine into green territory. We rounded up tips for purchasing an eco-friendly copier or printer, as well as some sustainable practices for using your new equipment.
1. Look for the Energy Star logo: Energy Star appliances and electronics meet high standards for energy efficiency, reducing electricity costs by as much as 60 percent and reducing air pollution. These machines include things like energy saving "standby" and "sleep" modes and dimmers on display screens to reduce electricity needs. In order to earn an energy star label, items must consume 40 percent less power then non-rated machines.
2. Consider buying an all-in-one machine: If you have a home office or a small business, consider purchasing a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine in one, which will help you save money, and also conserve resources (you'll only need to buy one piece of equipment instead of four). "It has been estimated that energy consumption can be reduced by approximately 40 percent by the replacement of an office copier, four laser printers, and a fax machine with a single multi-functional system," according to the EPA.
3. Look for Automatic Duplexing: No, this has nothing to do with buying a large, two-family dwelling with your brother-in-law. Printers with an automatic duplexing setting print two-sided documents unless otherwise programmed, which will help you save paper.
4. Look for machines with individualized ink cartridges: Several machines, including the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 and the Brother MFC-6490CW, offer individual color ink cartridges allowing you to replace a specific color without having to throw away the whole cartridge.
5. Look for solid ink printers: Instead of using ink and toner cartridges that turn into waste once empty, look for printers like the Xerox ColorQube 8570DN, which use solid ink technology. They have a wax-based stick of solid ink that melts as it's used for printing. Once the stick is used up there is nothing to throw out -- you just need to replace it with a new stick.
6. Buy from green companies: In 2009, HP was ranked as the "greenest" Fortune 500 company, according to an article in PCmag.com, and Dell and Xerox are part of the EPAs' Green Power Partnership, which focuses on using green power sources like wind, solar and biomass for some or all of a company's energy needs.
7. Use recycled paper: Find office paper that uses a high percentage of post-consumer waste and/or that comes from companies that use certified forest management standards. In addition, make it easier to recycle used office paper by leaving a recycling bin or box near the printer and copy machine.
8. Refill ink cartridges: While printer manufacturers might advise otherwise (they say refilled ink could affect print quality and could damage your printer), refilling your ink cartridges rather than replacing them can save you money and is less wasteful.
9. Recycle empty toner and printer cartridges: Those empty plastic cartridges can clog a landfill pretty fast. Most office supply stores have spots where these can be recycled, and many manufacturers offer pre-paid shipping labels to return them.
10. Conserve toner and ink: For copies that don't need to be high-quality (e-mails, drafts, etc.), use the draft or toner-saving settings on your printer, to help conserve toner and color ink.
For more information on purchasing equipment for your small business, visit Business.com.