A recent global survey of  10,000 people in 21 countries reveals that most  have a guilty conscience about their carbon footprint when using their home and office technology.  However, the majority of respondents cannot identify their largest potential environmental impact points when it comes to printing, and that women are more knowledgeable and guilt-ridden about their green practices than men.

The Lexmark sponsored study revealed a number of surprising results.  Eight-five percent would often choose the most environmentally conscious printing option if given a “one-click” or “one-push” solution and 84 percent are more likely to buy a product if the manufacturer shows  more responsibility and concern regarding recycling.  Seventy-Five percent reported  feeling  guilty about printing unnecessary pages.   Despite the high level of environmental consciousness, 64 percent INCORRECTLY think that the disposal of ink cartridges is the largest cause of pollution from printing.

He Said / She Said

In the 21 countries surveyed, women are more likely than men to be generally concerned about the environment and the impact from their activities, as well as more likely to correctly name the potential threats from extraneous printing on the environment. Women are also more likely to buy from a technology manufacturer that recycles.

For example, 71 percent of women claimed that they feel guilty when disposing of a device rather than repairing it, compared to only 63 percent of men. Women also appear to be more aware of paper waste, with 79 percent feeling guilty when printing unnecessary pages versus 71 percent of men.

Carbon Footprint Misstep

The largest proportion of respondents (64 percent) mistakenly think that the ink and toner constitute the biggest threat to the environment when it comes to printing.   Other recent research shows this not to be the case. In April, Lexmark released its LifeCycle Assessment (LCA) study, which found the paper consumers use in their laser or inkjet printers is the most significant contributor to the devices’ carbon footprint.

It Takes Two to Tango

While three-quarters of respondents recognize and feel guilty about their own printing habits, many still feel manufacturers could do more to help and educate, with only 39 percent of respondents believing that technology companies show enough responsibility when it comes to recycling.  However, the results do suggest that a manufacturer’s commitment to eco-friendly practices greatly influences consumers’ purchasing decisions, with 84 percent of respondents claiming they’re more likely to buy from a manufacturer concerned with recycling.

U.S. Consumers More Guilt-Ridden, Yet Less Informed

Consumers in the U.S. are vocal when it comes to expressing guilt about pollution from their printing practices, but are generally less informed than other international respondents. Americans also claim a strong preference for manufacturers that demonstrate good recycling practices and tend to believe that most companies are doing all they can to make a difference with their green initiatives.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.