Last week Wednesday the unthinkable happened. My printer died. A horrible screeching, grinding, inky black death. Ink that I had just purchased black death. Tragedy always strikes at the most inopportune time. I was in the middle of two crucial Earth Week projects with a Sunday deadline. Both required the printer. Not now, pleeaase. Damn.
I spent all spare time between meetings bouncing from Best Buy to Office Max; asking questions, deciding on features, comparing prices, and giving myself a headache. Life is complicated enough, throw in an environmental conscience and you can tack on an extra hundred or so decisions that need to be made. My head hurts.
I also have a scanner that died shortly after its purchase several years ago. I have missed its use ever since. The past few years have been riddled with trips to the print shop to make copies and send faxes. In an effort to save time, fuel, and my sanity I decided I would purchase an all-in-one photo/print/copy/fax machine. Have you seen the size of these things?! That is one helluva hunk of plastic. Not to mention the hunk of lifeless junk sitting on my desk that needs to be disposed of. Disappointing to say the least. What do you do with such things?
After some debate with the salesmen and internal wrestling I narrowed my choices down to two: the Epson Artisan 800 and a HP Photosmart C7280. I went home with some literature and a migraine to think about it. After hours of internet research reading reviews and comments left by previous owners it all came down to the ink. Both were energy star qualified, used six (six!) ink cartridges that cost roughly the same to replace and gave roughly the same output per color, but only one was recyclable. The HP. I so wanted the Epson with its sleek black exterior, cool 7.8" touch panel, and 3.5" color LCD screen. sigh My Office Max store does not recycle Epson ink cartridges. It does however recycle HP cartridges and gives me $3.00 for every one I turn in. I use a lot of ink. Printing invitations, rsvp, brochures, flyers, posters, programs, menus, table numbers, escort cards, name tags, proposals, invoices... running my event business has made me a slave to my printer. Getting $3.00 back for every cartridge helps me to purchase all that recycled paper to print on!
Upon setting up my new office machine I was surprised by two things. After installing the ink cartridges it needed to print a test sheet for alignment. When finished printing the LCD display prompted me to recycle or reuse the sheet it had just printed. Hmm... interesting. I would have done this anyway. Not a scrap of paper reaches the shredder until every square inch has been written or printed on, sometimes multiple times. The fact that this feature was built in gives me hope. Someone is taking notice. Something as simple as a one line prompt may get others to take notice, too. It is too bad it has to come from a machine though. You would think recycling, reuse, and conservation would be common sense.
The second surprise came from the basic guide. In the list of control panel features, #15 points to the On button and gives this description:
On: Turns the HP All-in-One on or off. When the HP All-in-One is off, a minimal amount of power is still supplied to the device. You can further reduce power supply by holding down the On button for 3 seconds. This places the HP All-in-One in Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) mode. To completely remove power, turn the HP All-in-One off, and then unplug the power cord.
Wow. I wasn't expecting that one. Remember when it was considered better to keep our computers on all the time rather than shut down and reboot? I do. Now they are telling us not only to turn electronics off, but to unplug them as well.
Is this a sign of changing times? Does it signal "green" becoming mainstream? I do not know, but it is a step in the right direction. A small step towards the day when we no longer need an instructional manual on sustainability. When environmental preservation becomes the norm and we do not require a conscious effort to reduce, reuse, recycle. We just do it. Out of common sense, habit, instinct - because it is our way of life.