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There Are Vegetables In That Ink!

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Even black ink can be green if it's made from soy or other veggies. Here's what you need to know about going green by using or looking out for plant-based inks.


When you're reading the back of a cereal box, a new novel or newspaper, or even a colleague's business card, there's a chance you’re reading veggies. As the need for eco-friendlier inks is gaining traction with printers and a number of product brands, all those words you’re seeing are that much more likely to be printed with materials you’d usually find in the supermarket — think all kinds of edible plants, from vegetables to soy, and even flaxseeds.

Plant-derived inks are gaining popularity, especially by eco-conscious companies and particularly as a complement to recycled or recyclable packaging and printed materials, often making packages much more biodegradable. These natural-material-based inks are an interesting alternative to the current standard, petroleum-based inks.





As printing moves back toward vegetable-based inks, you might begin to hear more about them or see their use mentioned on your favorite cookie or cracker box. Never thought twice about what’s on your packaging? Here are some of the basics:


What’s the norm? Read now!

What makes plant-based inks better? Read now!

Other than soy, what's used to make eco-friendly inks? Read now!

What can I look for when I shop? Read now!

How about my at-home projects and printers? Read later!

If you need to have something printed — from business materials to party invitations — seek out printers who use plant-derived inks.

For at-home printing, even if you can't use eco-friendly inks, there are ways that you can still be eco-responsible while printing.

Ecofont, a company that alters fonts so that they require 25% less toner to print, is planning to debut a home edition. Using certain fonts, such as Century Gothic, can also save toner — in some tests by Printer.com, it showed a 31% savings over the default font Arial, and even used less toner than Ecofont.

Many printers can use refillable ink cartridges or continuous ink systems (in which ink in bulk bottles is continuously fed into the cartridges via tubes); both of these systems can reduce the waste caused by disposable ink cartridges.

What were you surprised to learn about eco-friendly inks? Share your comments below!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • Catherine Z. 2 years ago
    HOPEFULLY SOMEONE WILL SEE THIS. THIS IS NOT THE FINAL ANSWER. VEGGIE ALTERNATIVES ARE STILL TOXIC IF YOU CONSIDER PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES THAT GO INTO OUR ENVIRONMENT IF THEY ARE NOT ORGANIC. ALSO MOST SOY AND CANOLA IS GENETICALLY MODIFIED. THOSE CROPS NEED EVEN MORE PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES AND WE DON'T KNOW THEIR EFFECTS ON HUMANS YET. WE MAY NOT BE EATING THE INK BUT GMO CROPS CAN BE CROSS-POLLINATED WITH OTHER CROPS. SO UNLESS WE ARE TALKING ORGANIC INK, IT'S STILL TOXIC.
  • Elaine F. 4 years ago
    I didn't know some were made from vegetables.
  • Carol F. 4 years ago
    Can using eco friendly ink bring down the cost of those ink cartridges we use at home in our printers???? Keep me posted, I'll try. I have use those cheaper, no name cartgides which are a fraction of the cost. Usually they work and they are MUCH CHEAPER. I had to use name brand ink recently (I was in a pinch) the cost was shocking. If soy based ink is made available to the consumer at a svings over the name brand ones, I would give it a try.
  • Lynn z. 4 years ago
    interesting!
  • Chappell w. 4 years ago
    I've been wondering about harmful chemicals in the ink of things I compost, with or without worms. Petroleum products might be scarey...thanks
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