GreenPrint, a software program, could reduce the towering stacks of wasted paper that pile up next to office printers every day.

Among other paper-saving functions, the software eliminates that last page trailing so many print jobs, the one with a mere line of text or useless banner ad.

GreenPrint succeeds by altering that mundane, thoughtless process for us, simultaneously saving ink and paper.

Plus, for a home user, it’s free.

Reducing the reams of paper we churn through each year could make a big impact.

Although there’s no “average” tree, GreenPrint estimates that one tree used in papermaking produces about 18 reams of paper. One ream is 500 sheets. A typical employee prints six wasted pages a day, or roughly 1,400 wasted pages a year, according to surveys of European workers by Lexmark, a printing company. That means one worker could save a whole tree every six years or so – not bad if you consider that a harvestable tree takes at least 30 years to grow.

The GreenPrint sales pitch to the corporate world is that by eliminating such waste, a large company could save more than $1 million a year in ink and paper costs while avoiding the consumption of thousands of trees and the tons of carbon emissions that result from paper manufacturing.

The software works by scanning a document before it’s printed to find wasteful elements, such as that single line on an otherwise empty page, then adjusting the job to eliminate them. (The software only works on PCs, but a version for Mac is planned for the fall.)

If we were inclined to add additional boring steps to our day in order to spare a few trees and save us or our employers money, we could achieve some of Green Print’s paper savings without the software, by clicking “print preview” or by cutting and pasting.

Here’s the thing: Most of us aren’t inclined.

Hayden Hamilton, GreenPrint’s founder, began his career at Ford, trying to come up with new features for cars.

“We found at Ford that it was the very simple innovations, the ones that took a step or two away from people’s lives, that made them easier … those were the most successful,” he said.

Often, “people just won’t take that step,” he said. “As much as environmentalists and everyone else will say, “Come on, stop being lazy and just do it,’ people just won’t.”

Hamilton, 31, conceived the idea for GreenPrint at Ford, where the company needed entire teams of employees to sort through the waste paper that accumulated beside hundreds of office printers. He has a heart for the green angle, but his MBA brain draws him to solving business inefficiencies – and making money.

Hamilton’s company, GreenPrint Technologies, has yet to turn a profit. But he expects to break even after a revamped business version of the software goes on sale before the end of the year.

“We have about 600 companies that want to move ahead as soon as we’ve got this new version. … If we can get two of those sales, we’ll be very profitable,” he said.

An individual user doesn’t need to wait, nor spend a dime:

A free home version can be downloaded at


(Shelby Wood is a staff writer for The Oregonian of Portland, Ore., and can be contacted at shelbywood(at)


AP-NY-07-28-08 1546EDT

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