Green Living Blog: Pitiful Printers

Green Living Blog: Pitiful Printers

Printers these days suck. Have you seen the movie Office Space? There is an iconic scene where workers are so frustrated with their office printer that they take it outside to smash it.

Besides not working, printers often don’t last. They aren’t designed to. And how about just replacing ink? Manufacturers don’t help when they charge as much to buy replacement ink or toner as a they charge for a whole new printer with its own ink/toner!

In Saskatchewan, we are fortunate to have a recycling program for printers through the Electronic Products Recycling Association, so we dont need to smash them. But recycling doesn’t do much to help printers last any longer. Here are my suggestions for getting the maximum life out of a printer:

  1. If you have an ink jet – consider refilling over buying a new cartridge. Costco offers the service to its members. Many private ink jet and toner supply centers offer this service too. It’s generally a lot less expensive than buying a whole new cartridge.
  2. Try repair. You can contact the manufacturer for help or advice, or try a printer repair shop or a generic electronic repair shop. Another option is to look on free sites or buy and sell groups for a printer identical to yours for parts or spare toner if you’re somewhat handy.
  3. Go for laser jet over ink jet. Laser toner doesn’t dry out, so if you aren’t printing often, it’s a great choice. No ink heads to get clogged, no ink to dry out. I have a simple black and white laser printer at home. I don’t print a lot so the printer and the cartridge have been going strong for about ten years. In general I have found that the simpler the printer, the longer it lasts. 
  4. Re-home before recycling. We recently had to say goodbye to the printer that we used in the SWRC office. It was a colour laser printer that really only did black and white text printing with any accuracy anymore, and the wireless connection we depended on had failed. We asked our office neighbours (also a non-profit) if a black and white printer without wireless was of use to them – and it was! A happy ending: It gets a new life as a seasonal box office printer and we avoid its premature recycling. If your neighbour doesn’t want your old printer, try a FaceBook Freecycle page or the free section of Kijiji.

What do you think about current printer longevity? Have you found any hacks to get the most out of your printer? Join the conversation below.