What’s More Environmentally Friendly — Print or Electronic? (The Answer May Surprise You!)


We’ve all seen those notes at the bottom of emails saying to save trees by not printing the email message. While it’s always a good idea to conserve any resource, the implication of that message is that electronic communications are more environmentally friendly than print. Is that true?

In short, the answer is no. Here are some interesting statistics (courtesy of the website www.printisbig.com):

  • By reading a printed newspaper instead of an online version of the newspaper, you use 20% less CO2.
  • The average person wastes 2.4 times more electricity powering on one computer than is used to print all the paper that person will use in a year.
  • 60% of the power used to produce paper in the United States is from renewable energy sources.
  • Only 11% of cut forest trees are used to produce paper. 28% is used for lumber and 53% is used for fuel.
  • 33% of paper comes from wood chips and sawmill scraps; another 33% comes from recycled paper.
  • The paper industry plants three times more trees than it cuts.
  • Over 70% of today’s ads and direct mail packages are printed on recycled paper.
  • Spam email wasted 33 billion kilowatt hours annually, which is the equivalent greenhouse emissions of 3.1 million cars using 2 billion gallons of gas.
  • The adverse health effects from producing an e-reader are 70 times worse than producing a book.

Print IS Environmentally Friendly

So don’t feel guilty about printing out an email, marketing brochure, or other types of printing. Printing is actually more environmentally friendly than electronic alternatives. In fact, you may want to add one of these taglines recommended by the Print Is Big website:

Print is Green! Paper is a completely renewable resource. If you really care about the environment, save energy by turning off your computer tonight. Find out more: printisbig.com

Go ahead, print my email. You’ll read it 10-30% faster and produce 20% less CO2. And yes, paper does grow on trees. Find out more:  printisbig.com

There are more forests in the U.S. today than there were 50 years ago. Don’t believe the hype, get the facts: printisbig.com

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