Change your font size and save a forest

By Tierney Smith

The Minus One Project could help save an average of 18% on paper (Source: jepoirrier/flickr)

Changing our behaviours to make life more sustainable is hard. But what if it didn’t have to be? What if it was as simple as changing the font size on your computer?

For the Minus One Project it is just that easy.

They believe by encouraging offices, schools, homes and everyone else to lower their font by one size before printing, they are taking a small step towards conserving one of the world’s valuable resources: forests.

Vishal Sagar from Cheil India, the advertising agency which came up with the initiative explained their thinking to RTCC.

“We wanted to take the spirit of the International Year of Forests in 2011 forward by creating something more substantial. An idea that is simple yet effective. And something that doesn’t involve a huge effort to execute.”

Covering around 30% of the globe, forests are home to 300 million people and protect over 50% of the earth’s plant and animal species.

Conversely, 16 million hectares of forests are destroyed every year – five million of which is used to meet everyday needs for paper.

Deforestation also accounts for around a fifth of all global emissions, and scientists warn that it must be reduced by 50% by 2020 for the best chance of staying below a 2°C temperature rise.

The Minus One project aims to enable people to save paper, driving down the need for deforestation, while still acknowledging that we are decades away from being a paperless society.

“The concept of paperless offices has been in existence for some years now, yet the paper consumption has only gone up,” said Sagar. “In the last 40 years, paper consumption has grown by a staggering 400%.”

“Minus One Project is not the ultimate solution – it is more of an interim solution.”

Rather than ask people not to print at all, the project encourages them to reduce their font size by one – which Sagar says could save an average of 18% on paper use.

I put this to the test at the RTCC offices.

Take 40 pages full of text in Times New Roman font, size 12. By reducing the font to size 11, the text will now fit on 35 pages, saving 14% of the paper you would have used.

100 pages at the same font could be reduced to 86 by dropping one size, a saving of 24%.

Cheil India say the project is about getting people, organisations, government and all other institutions to develop more sustainable habits, while promoting the difference small actions can make.

Sagar said: “We hope this project will inspire people to come up with more such ideas that have co-existence and sustainability at their core.”

Other Momentum for Change week articles:

VIDEO: Everything you need to know about the Minus One Project.

Read more on: Forests | Living | Nature | Research |