Sustainable printing practices involves not only the manageable use of paper and ink but also other inputs to develop a given printed product. Sustainability is a process of meeting the need of the present generation head on, while also providing for the future.
Sustainable printing when thoroughly followed will allow all future generations to experience what the present offers. And for it to survive, green printing practices must be intuitively followed. It is not just a list of actions but includes processes from the choice of materials, to manufacturing, down to recycling after the printing product has been used up.
Material requirement: For a printing product to be sustainable it must come from sources that can replenish easily. Taking advantage of non-renewable reserves defeat the purpose of sustainability, because it gobbles up resources leaving nothing for the future. Oil for instance is non-renewable and must be used intelligently. While trees are sustainable, although it will take decades to mature and be harvested. It becomes elemental for products to be manufactured using renewable reserves.
Manufacturing processes: Manufacturing must also follow green practices, not just using renewable reserves. Going green in a manufacturing process follows a long trail. To start, machineries must not be dependent on fossil fuels and if possible electrically operated. Second, power to run the machines must emanate from plants fed by solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and even wave energy. The ensuing product can only then be classified as truly green.
Recycling products: It becomes a social responsibility for manufacturers to keep track of their products right after being released from plants, to the end user and even after. If the product is not biodegradable, manufacturers must strive never to allow it to end up in landfills. Processes like recycling must be practiced and rid our society of garbage. It becomes logical then to make green printing products, so it can be biodegradable and be left to rot in landfills. Classic examples are printer products that inhabit landfills accounting for millions in American landfills.
Reuse of products must be totally institutionalized, so government agencies can wield power to control the proliferation of garbage. And possibly make throwing non-biodegradable garbage a criminal offense so everybody will be forced to observe recycling guidelines. We may have reached the tipping point, and the only option left is for everybody to embrace green printing practices.
Remember, the health of the environment is everybody’s concern. And only through green printing practices can it be sustained.