Monday, September 7, 2015

Megan Anderson's Blog Post

Nowadays eco friendly products are all the rage. There seems to be an eco friendly version of everything, from water bottles made from recycled plastic to shoes made from bamboo. And if there’s an eco friendly alternative, people will look for ways to use less of that product. There has been a big push to use less paper either by using email or sharing documents through the cloud, printing double sided in order to use less paper, and of course recycling the paper you are using. By doing this, not only are you saving the earth, but you are also saving money. The cost of paper is continuing to rise. Not only is paper expensive, but so is the ink that goes on the paper. According to Suvir Mirchandani, ink is almost twice and expensive as French perfume. Ink is expensive and made from harmful chemicals. The ink itself might not be extremely harmful to the environment but it’s the plastic packaging, boxes, and envelopes that that can really accumulate to do some damage to your wallet and the environment.
Suvir Mirchandani is a middle school student from the suburbs of Pittsburgh. In 2014, during a science fair experiment he did research project to see which font uses the least amount of ink in order to help his school cut waste and save money on ink and printing.
By reading through his class handouts, he determined that the most used letters are e, t, a, o, and r. Using these five letters he tested the fonts Garamond, TImes New Roman, Century Gothic, and the dreaded Comic Sans. Because of Garamond’s thin strokes, it uses the least amount of ink. According to Suvir Mirchandani, his school would be able to use 24% less ink, which equates to about $21,000 a year.
An article on the BBC news reported a similar finding. In that experiment  a researcher tested Garamond, Courier, Brush Script, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Comic sans, Cooper Black, and Impact. There’s no surprise that Impact, with it’s condensed bold letters, used up the most ink. Similar to Suvir Mirchandani’s findings, this researcher also found that Garamond used the least amount of ink.
Designers have also done research into this same topic and have started to create fonts that address this problem. In modern, everyday printers, the ink tends to bleed, and move around. New fonts are being created that use this to their benefit. These fonts also rely on our brain’s ability to connect shapes that are close together. They focus on how much of the letterform can be taken out, while still having the letterform remain recognisable and readable as everyday fonts. Two fonts that I have found that are attempting to do this and move typefaces into a new era are Ecofont and Ryman Eco.
Ecofont takes a swiss cheese approach, it adds tiny holes in already existing letter forms. It claims to use twenty percent less ink than Arial. On ecofont’s website, they reference a study from the University of Wisconsin that says Century Gothic is the most economical font, uses the least amount of ink. Ecofont admits that their font may use slightly more ink, but Century Gothic’s wide letter form makes it less eco friendly by forcing it to use more paper. Ecofont is based off a thinner font, therefor allowing it to use less paper. Also, ecofont’s punch hole style can be applied to other, already existing fonts, so Garamond could be extra eco friendly.
One of the downfalls of this font is if your printer’s resolution is not high enough to support the accuracy this font needs. tested this font to see how practical it really was. Their findings were less than stellar. They concluded that yes, you will use about twenty percent less ink if you switch to ecofont, but the crispness and quality of the letters will suffer. If the font is above twelve points, the dots become very noticeable. Also because the letterform incorporates bleeding, the lines become very fuzzy, like in the picture below of a scan of ecofont. Another downfall for this font is that when printed out, it looks like it was printed in gray ink.

Ryman Eco is another typeface to consider when investigating this idea of ink saving fonts. Instead of dots, it uses lines that work as canals to channel the bleeding ink into the correct place. This typeface seems to consider style, personality, and design more than Ecofont, which simply adds holes into an already existing font.



Megan Anderson 9/8/2015

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