Monday, 6 December 2010

WWF releases ‘no print’ pdf. Is it a good idea?

imageThe German arm of environment organisation WWF has released a file format described as a ‘PDF that cannot be printed out’. The organisation is advocating it as a way to avoid unnecessary printing, save trees and help the environment. Users can decide which documents don't need printing out and then save them in the WWF format.

It works by showing a ‘Save as WWF’ choice in the print menu as an alternative to the installed printers, so the format can be used for a range of documents, including emails, websites, messages, CVs, etc. In the Mac version you can also change any documents you want to WWF format using a converter. WWF docs are shown with the WWF file symbol and a page is automatically added to the end of each document explaining the purpose of the new file format to first-time users (although this can be turned off). If you want a copy of the software, you can download it here.

 

Well, personally I don’t want other people deciding what documents I may need to print out.

Say I’ve downloaded the information I need to my desktop PC, but can’t print it out. If I need to have that information with me what do I do? Well the most likely scenario is that I switch on my aging PC and wait while it boots up (using fossil fuel-based energy). I look at the file, but can’t print the information, so I take a piece of paper and write down the important details (or just print a screen image). Where’s the saving?

But it could be worse than that. Perhaps the most important aspect of sustainability is that we are all in it together. It’s going to be counter-productive to try and force people to be green and if you send someone a document that they can’t print, that’s what you are doing. Even if printing was just restricted to a few pages it would be better. (In any case, I bet there will very soon be some free software to circumvent the restriction.)

Perhaps this is just an attempt to raise awareness of deforestation, which is a good thing. But, in my view, imposing green IT is not a long-term solution.

(Thanks to greenIT.fr)

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