6th Grader Figures out How to Save Govt. $400 Million

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Figuring out how to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars on ink is so easy a sixth grader could do it. In fact, one did.

Image via CNN

Image via CNN

Suvir Mirchandani, a student at a Pittsburgh middle school, decided he wanted to look for ways to reduce waste at his school. So for a science project, he measured how much ink was used in creating enlarged versions of commonly used letters in his teachers’ handouts. And then he measured how ink usage would be reduced by using different fonts.

Printer ink can be quite expensive—almost double the per ounce price of Chanel No. 5 perfume, as Mirchandani tells CNN, which first reported the story.

It turned out his school district could reduce its annual ink usage by 24 percent and save $21,000 a year by switching to Garamond, a lighter font with thinner, less ink-heavy strokes.

After submitting his work to a journal for young researchers run by Harvard grad students, Mirchandani was encouraged to expand his research.

The task was tougher. But the potential savings were much, much bigger. CNN reports:

With an annual printing expenditure of $1.8 billion, the government was a much more challenging task than his school science project.

Suvir repeated his tests on five sample pages from documents on the Government Printing Office website and got similar results —change the font, save money.

Using the Government Services Administration’s estimated annual cost of ink — $467 million — Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% — or $136 million per year. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also jumped on board, he reported.

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