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Sustainable printing - tips for greener copies

Sustainable printing - 15 tips for the most ecological copies and printouts possible

Looking for helpful tips on sustainable printing? Then you've come to the right place! Our paper consumption, the production of printers, toner, paper and other printed matter, the mailing, chemical inks, the energy consumption of the devices and last but not least, the usage behavior by us consumers - all these things impact our ecological footprint and pollute the environment. Fortunately, there are simple ways to print in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

In this article, I'm going to present you with 10 tips for making copies and printouts as sustainably as possible, as well as for using printers in a more resource-efficient way. Let's go!

In advance you will find here a short Overview about the advice:

  1. Use modern printers and copiers
  2. Use recycled paper
  3. Prefer paper from sustainable forestry
  4. Go for environmentally friendly inks and toners
  5. Pay attention to ecological packaging
  6. Set print options to "double-sided
  7. Minimize number of pages
  8. Enable black and white setting
  9. Go to a sustainable print shop
  10. Print ahead
  11. Minimize delivery routes
  12. Use vegan products
  13. Pay attention to climate neutrality
  14. Care for your own equipment
  15. Make people think with email signature

1. Use modern printers and copiers

Make sure that your printer offers exactly the functions you need in everyday use. If the device is in your sustainable home office a multifunction device with print, scan and copy functions is certainly the most sensible solution. A simple laser printer can be sufficient if, for example, you only print out black and white copies for your children's homework from time to time. For effective color printing, on the other hand, an inkjet printer is recommended.₁

When buying it, also make sure that it is compatible with your computer and other hardware for as long as possible so that you can use it for many years to come.

Tip: The scanner function can theoretically also be dispensed with. I use a smartphone app to scan the files, which loads them directly into my cloud for storage. Absolutely uncomplicated.

2. Use recycled paper

Use recycled paper when printing

Every German consumes an average of 227 kilograms of paper per year - With this per capita consumption, Germany is almost at the top worldwide.₂ Ultimately, we are also driving the Deforestation because globally, one in five trees is turned into paper.₃

Printing with recycled paper is considered particularly environmentally friendly because it uses about two-thirds less energy and water than virgin paper. So look for the seal when buying "Blue Angel - it identifies paper made from recycled waste paper, cardboard and board.₄

3. Prefer paper from sustainable forestry

At the seals FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) you can recognize paper products from sustainable forestry. Ecological use of resources and preservation of the forest have top priority in production.

Also the "Cradle to Cradle Standard" is a safe sign for consumers, as the paper is produced in line with a natural, resource-conserving circular economy and raw materials are reused. So if you want to print sustainably, you should prefer corresponding products.

4. Go for environmentally friendly inks and toners

Often, printer inks contain mineral oils and substances that make it difficult to recycle the waste paper. Modern, natural inks, on the other hand, are used, for example from vegetable oils and resins and there are not even any differences in color and print quality.

When choosing toners, also make sure that they are made from recycled plastic. There are also even refillable ink cartridges, which in the sense of the Zero Waste Lifestyle create even less waste.

5. pay attention to ecological packaging

Sustainable printing also means that the packaging of printing paper and toner itself should be as plastic-free, recyclable and natural are. So you can Conserve natural resources and still use your printer as usual.

6. set print options to "double-sided

Whenever you have the opportunity, you should select "double-sided" in the printer settings in order to Save paper. The prerequisite is of course that your Printer supports this function.

7. minimize number of pages

Another tip for sustainable use of your printer is to keep the number of pages to a minimum. For example, use smaller fonts, take out images from your file and simply print according to the principle: as few pages as possible, as many as absolutely necessary.

8. Enable black and white setting

In order to save ink and energy, you can also directly activate the Set checkmark at "black and whiteif you do not necessarily need to print something in color and high quality. This setting is usually sufficient for ordinary documents. This way you can also print sustainably and save ink.

9. go to a sustainable print shop

Environmentally friendly printers and copy stores

It is not always possible to avoid printouts and copies. Fortunately, there are now many print and copy stores that follow a sustainable company philosophy and are particularly helpful when you have a lot of pages or even Flyers, leaflets, business cards, postcards or product labels must have printed.

In any case, you should make sure that the printing company of your choice resource-efficient management, certifications for environmental management, such as EMAS or DIN ISO 14001 has received and, ideally, also operates and ships climate-neutrally.

10. Print ahead

Whether you're a private individual or a business - this tip for sustainable printing is something everyone should really take to heart. As with the sustainable driving, it is worth looking ahead in printing matters as well.

Simply print only what is absolutely necessary. Do you really have to print out a concert ticket or is the digital version on your smartphone sufficient? Does it have to be a written letter - or is an e-mail also sufficient?

Even if you don't have an alternative, there are still opportunities for sustainable printing. For example, ask yourself whether you could also use a lower circulation or number of pages is sufficient and whether finishing the pages at the print shop is really necessary. Another tip is to give preference to a smaller formatto save paper and ink.  

Tip: And if you accidentally print out too much, at least use the back side as scratch paper before the paper goes straight into the trash.

11. Minimize delivery routes

Ideally, the Print shop near you around the corner - and uses paper from regional recycling. This way, neither the store nor you will have to travel long distances by car. Also try to avoid misprints and Avoid returnsYou can avoid this by taking a close look at your file before placing the order.


The "detour animal" (cultivation of animal feed, creation of grazing areas) worsens not only the ecological balance of our diet, but also our printing behavior. Because in fact paper is often still with gelatin and casein treated.

Also Printing inks now and then contain animal fats or beeswaxes - and Adhesives for example, the gelatin protein glutin. If you want to print in an animal-friendly and environmentally friendly way, you should look for the vegan label, which can be found not only on food, but also on many office products.

Tip: The linked article tells you exactly, why i live vegan.

13. Pay attention to climate neutrality

The climate change is undoubtedly one of the biggest Environmental problems of our time. Our printing behavior is also part of the cause. The production of printers, cartridges, paper and the like generates large quantities of the greenhouse gas CO2.

Fortunately, there are also climate-neutral printers and suppliers who offer their Offset CO2 emissions - through donations to climate protection organizations, for example. So when buying printer paper or choosing your print shop, pay attention to this sustainability aspect as well.

14. care and maintenance of own equipment

If you really want to print sustainably, you should take this tip very seriously: The more care you take with your printer, the longer it will serve you faithfully. and the less natural resources are necessary for your printing needs. So, for example, make sure that the power cord doesn't kink or snap off - yes, I actually destroyed my printer once because of that 😉. 

15. Make people think with email signature

Email per se is a great way to save paper (like envelopes and the letter itself). But in fact I know many people who still print out their mailseven if the younger generation can hardly imagine it.

So if you want to motivate others to be more sustainable with the printer and the paper or the raw material wood, then you should simply add a small but effective phrase to your signature such as "Please think of the environment before hastily printing this message." Install

Sustainable printing - no problem at all!

Printing as environmentally friendly as possible

Printing sustainably is really not complicated. However, it's important to understand that every printout you avoid ultimately saves paper, energy, water and, last but not least, money. Saves money in a sustainable way. A nice motivation, isn't it?

I hope that I could help you with this article about environmentally friendly printing. Do you have any questions, suggestions or tips? Then I look forward to your comments!

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: Do you work from home? At Home office organization I'm going to introduce you to the best tips for working productively at home. Have fun!

₁ Stiftung Warentest: The best printer for you (as of 17.08.2021), available at [05.11.2021].

₂ WWF Germany: Turning forests into paper (as of 07.09.2021), available at [05.11.2021].

₃ OroVerde - Die Tropenwaldstiftung: Paper - What paper consumption has to do with rainforests, available at [05.11.2021].

₄ Umweltbundesamt: Papier und Druckerzeugnisse (Status: 17.02.2015), available at [05.11.2021].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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