Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting Inked

I'm not sure what's up with Lexmark, but it seems like they hate the environment. Until a few weeks ago I had a Lexmark wonder printer. It was the kind of wanna be super home office equipment that can print, copy, fax and make bad coffee. One day while installing a new ink cartridge I messed up and had to take it out to reinstall. The thing sputtered gurgled and spat a message at me that said, "The installed cartridge is not a Lexmark original. You have violated your warranty, sucker." Then every time I attempted to print I got another nasty message warning me of the dangers of not using original Lexmark cartridges. Of course I ignored them and printed along merrily, but jeeze it was an original Lexmark cartridge. What if by some crazy notion I used a recycled cartridge? What then Lexmark? Whatta ya gone do then, huh?

Hold on. Wait one minute. Why wasn't I using a recycled cartridge? What is wrong with me!?

Recycling ink cartridge is super easy, but for savvy people like Donna Freedman over at MSN Money it had been more than a green alternative. Donna and others like her had been getting more than ink from Office Depot, Office Max and Staples. It seems that these companies give store credit for returned cartridges. The policies regarding how the credit is given has changed. Recently Office Depot joined the other two stores in giving cartridge refunds in the form of quarter store value cards. You can read all about this change at Ms. Freedman's post from last week.

The credit-for-cartridges programs are good, but you can go one better for the environment by not buying new cartridges at all. What town in the country doesn't have a Walgreen's on every corner? Walgreen's will refill your ink cartridges, usually while you wait, for much less than you'd buy new--$10 for black, $15 for color. Not every location has this capability and there are certain model limitations, but check it out. Cartridge World has been rapidly adding locations. They carry more than 150 different premium inks and toners.

As for my Lexmark wonder machine it found it's way to recycling. It wasn't the nasty message that met it's untimely demise it was all the paper that it gobbled up and ripped to shreds. Now my HP's ink is getting low. But this time I'll be going down the street for a refill.

photo by 摩根

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