It took a ninth-grader to come up with a simple solution that could save the U.S government $400 million annually, and it all revolves around the type of font used on paperwork.
Suvir Mirchandani, a 14-year-old who lives just outside of Pittsburgh, began researching the general cost of ink and printing when as part of a science project he was in the sixth grade at Dorseyville Middle School, and determined that his local school system could save $21,000 a year if it switched from a font like Times New Roman to one with narrower strokes like Garamond.
He used a computer software program to calculate the difference, and published his results in the Journal of Emerging Investigators. Shortly thereafter, he was asked by the Journal to calculate potential savings if the federal government similarly switched fonts.
That total came to about $370 million.
"The change is easy to make, but the results are so impactful," Suvir tells the Good News Blog. "I was really surprised."
Interested in both computer science and graphic design, Suvir says his inquiry into the matter started when he thought about the waste his school produced with the amount of handouts that went out, and considered the two parts of the equation: paper and ink. While paper could be recycled, there seemed to be something he could do to also make the best use of the latter resource.
From there, Suvir considered how font size affected both the budget and environment. He used APFill Ink Coverage Software to compare various typefaces commonly used on teacher handouts, and found a way to reduce ink consumption by 24 percent. When he expanded his study to the government, he followed the same procedure, sampling documents from the Government Printing Office website.
As the government estimates its annual cost of ink to be $467 million, Suvir concluded that if it switched to Garamond, it would save the country $136 million per year. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments followed suit.
"I understand it's hard to make a big universal change," Suvir comments. "I just hope individuals will begin to make changes."
Considering the national response to his findings - the teen has been featured on CNN, ABC World News, Huffington Post and CBS among others - Suvir will likely make a difference across not only government, but also businesses, schools and even homes. He describes the response as "extraordinary" and "wonderful."
Suvir has moved on to other huge endeavors, presenting his latest project at his school science fair on Friday: a web browser made for people with paralysis that utilizes their cognitive functions in a capacity not yet possible on other models.
The invention was selected to compete in an international science fair coming up this year. Now, Suvir can count two ways he's bettering the planet before he can even drive.
"If I am able to make a big difference, it would mean the world," he says. "Creating an awareness is my goal."
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