Sunday, January 30, 2005

How Expensive is Paper?

We've got a crappy printer at work, so I was thinking about the costs of printing today, and the costs of not printing.

Office Depot sells reams of 500 sheets of printer paper for $6.65 - $5.85 if you buy more than 5 reams. That comes to a bit more than one cent per page. Of course, printing something on a blank sheet costs money too. I've read that the energy and ink costs of printing a sheet of paper are roughly equal to the cost of making the sheet in the first place, so let's say a round two cents for a printed page.

How much do other forms of text-storage cost? Well, I've got a lot of PDF files on my computer. Picked at random, one 7-page document is roughly 75k - 10.7k/page. Bestbuy's website lists a 160gb hard drive as costing $100, or $0.000000625 per kilobyte of storage. Some quick math gives us a cost-per-page that is 3,000 times less than printing a sheet of paper.

The point of this is all to say WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING WASTING TREES ON THIS CRAP?!!!

Now, as a bookseller I'd be shortsighted if I didn't admit there are some uses left for printed text. However, the modern office uses an incredible amount of paper. Recylcing this stuff is good, but not using it in the first place would be much, much, much better. Just something for everyone to keep in mind. Don't photocopy that funny cartoon - email it to your coworkers. And to my father: You know how you print out your emails every night? Stop. Now. I'd like to have some free oxygen left for your grandchildren. You don't like reading email off your screen? Boo hoo. I like breathing more.

(By the way, how screwed up is a 160 gigabyte hard drive for $100? If someone in my family is looking for a birthday present...)

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