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A Simple, Smart, Free Way to Green Your Office

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 11 Comments

ecofont.jpegTypically when a company starts thinking of how to become greener, they either think big, as in how to reduce their carbon (and soon, water) footprint, or on an more immediate scale – how to green your office. Recycling, lighting, energy use monitoring spring to mind first.
But there’s something equally as ubiquitous and therefore overlooked – the amount of ink used when printing those everyday things – things that add up to a lot of paper, and a lot of ink.
How do you reduce the amount of ink used then? Simple: poke holes in the lettering. Come again?


Ecofont is a font created by Dutch creative communications agency SPRANQ and after testing it for readability, they settled on using Vera Sans, an open source font, with circles cut out throughout the middle of the lettering.
Seeming to address what I thought when I first heard about EcoFont, they say:

At the shown size, this obviously is not very nice, but at a regular font size it is actually very usable.

So while it’s not something you’ll want to be using for your next annual report (Or who knows, maybe you do, it does make a strong statement!) there are many documents where the appearance is not the focus: communication is. And Ecofont would serve this well.
With an average 20% ink savings, this tiny change could make a huge impact. What are you waiting for?
Readers: How are you greening your office in under the radar, less common ways such as these? Please share, below.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.


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  • http://www.daveconrey.com daveconrey

    Great idea. The only problem for me, as a designer, is the format of the Ecofont. It’s only offered in TrueType, but we use OpenType exclusively. If they come out with that version, I’d be “open” to it.

  • bandolier

    Seems like a gimmick, but asuming it’s as readable as, say, arial, then it’s actually a brilliant idea. I would imagine that as much depends on your printer’s ability to be accurate as anything else. Plus, couldn’t you just take ANY font and use the printer software to inject similar holes? Or, idea of the century, just reduce the ink volume? Of course, that’s how printer companies make their money, the ink costs more than the printer!

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    @daveconrey, I’ll drop a line to the designers to let them know about that. Though it seems they were aiming for more everyday, functional rather then design oriented applications. But I’m with you, I’d like to see it used in a broad range of applications.
    @bandolier They tested out fonts specifically for readability. Actually, when I was reducing the image size for this article, when I got close to the standard, 12pt or so range, you couldn’t really see of notice the holes.
    Great idea re ink volume. That is addressable to an extent, by shifting your printer’s image quality. But not something many would think to do or see as something making much impact. But I’m sure it would.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t most laser printers have an “economode” which accomplishes exactly this? (smaller/less frequent dots = less ink = lighter letters = holes in letters)

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    @Anonymous: Exactly. But do people do it? It’s like having a programmable thermostat. Yes, it can make a lot of difference, but does everybody do it. Not likely. But imagine if you did both, the cumulative possibilities!

  • bandolier

    Yeah, but asking people to use “economode” is a lot easier than getting them to change the font no? I mean, the IT guys could just set that up in an office and the whole place would be good to go. A lot easier that installing a new font on everyone’s machine AND convincing them to use it. I definitely love the idea, but I see software/hardware changes on the printers as much better – IF you could get the printer companies to cooperate.

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    @bandolier Agreed. And I think for some it would be a visible indicator/reminder, internally and externally to the company, of their greening efforts.
    But in general, it’s about going with what works, and what will best mesh with a company’s existing work culture, or where it’s headed.

  • http://foothillsfancies.blogspot.com Sally

    Thanks– I already downloaded Ecofont and am looking forward to trying it out. But I also use FastDraft or QuickPrint or whatever the ink-saver setting is ALL THE TIME unless I’m printing something for final/publication use. It’s not that hard to make a habit of it.

  • Eric

    I think we can use both the economical printing and eco font to save more indeed. Readbility is still very good with both for draft/internal documents.
    All this seems nice but what is really the impact of the measure?
    Did anybody see a study?
    On the other hand, I had a bad surprise as the ecofont (on a Mac, under open office or MS) is larger than the same size arial font… Consequence, we cover 10% more space on the paper and letters are larger… Is it really a good measure?

  • Eric

    I think we can use both the economical printing and eco font to save more indeed. Readbility is still very good with both for draft/internal documents.
    All this seems nice but what is really the impact of the measure?
    Did anybody see a study?
    On the other hand, I had a bad surprise as the ecofont (on a Mac, under open office or MS) is larger than the same size arial font… Consequence, we cover 10% more space on the paper and letters are larger… Is it really a good measure?

  • Erika

    Fun article! I myself recently did my contribution towards “going green” I redid my lighting to save money on costs of energy i was wasting and money i was blowing! I used a Energy Efficient Lighting Calculator
    Energy Efficient Lighting Calculator
    . It helped me compare pricing, and also linked me to an electrican to come out . I know nothing about lighting, so this really HELPED!