-- An e
. You can write it with one fluid swoop of a pen or one tap of the keyboard. The most commonly used letter in the English dictionary. Simple, right?
Now imagine it printed out millions of times on thousands of forms and documents. Then think of how much ink would be needed.
OK, so that may have been a first for you, but it came naturally to 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani when he was trying to think of ways to cut waste and save money at his Pittsburgh-area middle school.
It all started as a science fair project. As a neophyte sixth-grader at Dorseyville Middle School, Suvir noticed he was getting a lot more handouts than he did in elementary school.
Interested in applying computer science to promote environmental sustainability, Suvir decided he was going to figure out if there was a better way to minimize the constant flurry of paper and ink.
Reducing paper use through recycling and dual-sided printing had been talked about before as a way to save money and conserve resources, but there was less attention paid to the ink for which the paper served as a canvas for history and algebra handouts.
"Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume," Suvir says with a chuckle.
He's right: Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce, while the equivalent amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75. ...