14-year old comes up with $400 million savings idea. It’s simple yet brilliant

Bradley Wint
By: - 28th Mar 2014
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When you think about all the government departments across the United States, or in any country as a matter, and think about how much information is printed on a daily basis, it adds up to be quite a lot. Many of these agencies currently use the popular Times New Roman font, but 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani may have found a very simple solution to cut the cost of ink usage by as much as $400 million.

When he was in sixth-grade at Dorseyville Middle School, he decided that he wanted to implemented new technological measures to cut down on waste by promoting the idea of environmental sustainability. He noticed that his class instructors had been issuing quite a lot of printed notes, and had pushed for the use of recycled paper and double-sided printing. Now those are some obvious solutions.

He took it to the next level though by attacking the problem on the ink level. Ink, as we all know, is a very expensive and sometimes overpriced resource. Suvir conducted a simple test by printing huge letters in four font face styles: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. He trimmed the edges and then weighed them, to find out that Garamond was the lightest of them all. Looking at the font face styles, it’s not hard to see why Garamond is the winner. Even though it looks similar to Times New Roman, it’s slightly thinner in every regard but still very readable on paper at point size 11 or 12.

At the school district level, a simple font change to Garamond could save about $21,000 yearly, which is about 24% less ink compared to more traditionally used fonts.

Let’s take that same principle and apply to the government level. The U.S. Government Printing Office uses an estimated $467 million in ink yearly. If the federal and state agencies decided to switch to Garamond, they could save at least $370 millions worth of ink, which is about 30% of what they use. Amazing, right?

Sadly, the idea may not be adopted because the U.S. Government Printing Office doesn’t think there will be substantial benefits given that they are currently moving towards a more electronic solution. Their paper usage has declined from 20,000 printed sheets per day to jut 2,500. They also have been using recycled paper for at least 5 years now. It seems to also be a technical and costly challenge to transition the system from Times over to Garamond.

Mirchandani still hopes his idea is taken into consideration given that paper won’t be completely phased out for at least the next 20 years. Even if they don’t save as much as expected, it would be a savings nonetheless.

Read up the full journal in the Journal of Emerging Investors.

As a home user or business owner we can also implement similar cost saving measures such as printing on both sides of the paper, printing in draft-mode (since it looks pretty much the same for text based documents) and avoiding the use of colored ink unless necessary. They may not stack up as much, but you’ll still save a few bucks. Laser printing is also a good idea because the powder (not wet ink) doesn’t dry up over time. If you find a really good laser printer, you may actually save a lot more versus regular ink jet printers, but from my experience, lasers tend to be really finicky and could run up a hefty bill due to maintenance of other parts (even with big brands).

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