Reducing the ecological footprint of a PhD thesis in Geography and Environmental Studies

Astute observers might have noticed that I haven’t been posting much lately.  It’s been a busy 5 weeks gearing up for my PhD thesis defence, doing the defence, and then finalizing the thesis.  I’m afraid I haven’t had much time for blogging.  However, I’m optimistic that  that once October rolls in, I’ll be able to get back to GreenLivingOttawa.  Meanwhile some thoughts on minimizing the footprints cast by academic pursuits.

There’s no way around it, writing a thesis uses a lot of paper and printer ink.  However, there are a few things that I did to reduce the environmental impact of my paper and ink consumption.  First, whenever I could I printed out drafts on the backsides of previously used pieces of paper.  When I had to submit drafts to committee members for comments, I printed out copies on Rolland Enviro100 Copy paper from Cascades.  Rolland Envirocopy is made from 100% post-consumer fibre bleached pure white without the use of chlorine in a process powered entirely from biogas.  Despite its amazing environmental pedigree the paper looks and performs like any other printer paper and costs only $8.99 for a ream of 500 sheets.  I buy my paper from Arbour Environmental Shoppe, but Rolland Envirocopy is available at most office supply stores.

As for printer ink, we have an HP deskjet with the standard HP ink cartridges that cost a shocking $50 each.  Way back when, I struggled with those refill-it-yourself  ink kits but I always seemed to get more ink on myself and the kitchen table than in the cartridges.  Fortunately there are now affordable places to get your cartridges filled by professionals.  I stopped by my local (Billings Bridge Plaza) Printwell counter this afternoon for yet another refill and had a chat with Rick about the environmental benefits of refills.  He also gave me some pointers on how to maximize the lifespan of a cartridge, which I will pass on here.

You should be able to refill an HP inkjet cartridge 10 times if you make sure to bring it in fresh.  The longer you wait to refill it after it’s been run dry, the shorter the lifespan of the cartridge.  Ideally a cartridge should be refilled and reinstalled in a printer within 2 weeks of its running out of ink.  Rick told me that he has one customer who managed to refill an HP cartridge 32 times before it gave out.  This man brings in his cartridge within two days of the ink running low.  So there you have it, 31 cartridges saved from the landfill by someone who does not procrastinate on ink refills.  Rick also told me that Printwell franchises will soon be providing customers with biodegradable bags to carry their cartridges home in.  By the way, for the price of two new HP cartridges you can buy a card for 10 refills from Printwell, so there is a tangible financial as well as environmental incentive to keep those cartridges out of the garbage.

Printwell is an Ottawa-based company with franchises in Ontario and Quebec.  The location I go to is in upper floor food court area of Billings Bridge Plaza,  2277 Riverside Dr, Ottawa ON  K1H 7X6, 613-738-7487

Envirocopy Paper from Arbour Environmental Shoppe, 800 Bank Street, Ottawa, K1S 3V8, 613-567-3168

2 thoughts on “Reducing the ecological footprint of a PhD thesis in Geography and Environmental Studies

  • Hi there,

    I was reading your article on refilling printer cartridges. I am the Ontario Developper for a franchise chain “Island Ink-Jet” which was the first franchised company to offer the ink refill service at locations across Canada. We are the most experienced company in the industry and currently the only Nationally branded refiller in Canada operating over 150+ locations nationally. You can find our locations at

    I wanted to ensure that your readers are not mislead believing their HP cartridges can be refilled 10 times. This is not the norm. The cartridges were designed by the manufacturers to be used once, destined to sit in the landfill for the next 1000 years. Sometimes we are able to get 1 refill. Sometimes more. Sometimes none at all. On average, we recommend cartridges can typically be refilled 3 times. Cartridges without printheads can be refilled more times.

    Yes, 10 refills is entirely possible, however the image quality will also typically degrade as the microscopic inkjets that spit ink out of the cartridge (some cartridges have over 400 of them)start to break down increasing ink droplet size. This is still fine if your using the cartridge for printing drafts however photographers would not likely be happy…

    Everyone has different needs in printing and the benefit of dealing with any knowledgeable inkjet refill franchise is that they will take time to discuss your personal use, and offer the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly program for you to suit your needs.

  • Don’t listen to Alex… He’s a crappy businessman… one who is unprofessional… one who lies to his customers… one who doesn’t return phone calls or respond to emails… it’s really pathetic. What type of man doesn’t care about his business/customers? He lied to me saying he’d replace a bad ink cartridge and didn’t follow through. HE LIED!!! Then when I tried and tried to call him, I was repeatedly told “He’s out of town”. Yeah, whatever. Another lie. This guy is a JOKE! You’d think someone would want to be perceived as a decent person if they were in the public eye. Not Alex. PATHETIC!

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