A Pennsylvania middle school student figured out a way for federal and state governments to cut $370 million dollars from their combined budgets annually with one simple fix: changing the font on every single document they print.
Fourteen-year-old Suvir Mirchandani of the Pittsburgh area Dorseyville Middle School used a science project to find out how much money he could save his school in printing costs after noticing a substantial increase in the amount of paper he received compared to elementary school.
After analyzing the most commonly used letters across four different typefaces and figuring out how much ink each used, Mirchandani found that by switching the school’s font exclusively to Garamond, it could reduce printer ink consumption by 24 percent and save $21,000 in printing costs every year.
“Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume,” Mirchandani told CNN.
After publishing his findings in Harvard’s Journal for Emerging Investigators, the founders encouraged Mirchandani to apply his concept to something bigger – government’s $1.8 billion annual printing expense.
“We were so impressed. We really could really see the real-world application in Suvir’s paper,” JEI founder Sarah Fankhauser said.
After pulling sample pages and running the same test on documents from the Government Printing Office website, Mirchandani came up with the same result — switch to a font like Garamond with its thinner character strokes, and the federal government could cut almost 30 percent, or $136 million, from an annual $467 million spent on ink. If state governments adopted the same practice, another $234 million could be saved.
Government Printing Office Media and Public Relations Manager Gary Somerset described the student’s findings as “remarkable,” but was unsure if the government would adopt the change, as the focus on saving printing costs has shifted to publishing documents exclusively online.
“They can’t convert everything to a digital format; not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed,” Mirchandani said. “I definitely would love to see some actual changes and I’d be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible.”