Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Die Dot Matrix Printer Die

That does not translate into "The Dot Matrix Printer The" as SideShow Bob would like you to believe. I really mean ill will onto this ancient technology. It has to go. Really...now...get out.

Besides this weekend's trip up I-95 to South Jersey, I got to spend about 30 minutes in my local car rental store listening to the whirl of cutting edge 1970's technology. Why is it that rental car counters can't seem to get with the times?

It would seem to me that beyond the cost of the units themselves (upwards of $300), the cost of the paper, and of course finding replacement parts that many of these machines should have found the scrap heap a long while ago.

Wouldn't it make more sense to switch to a more modern system like plain paper laser printers? That way I can have a copy of my rental record that won't show every scratch from the loose change in my pocket? Paper would also be significantly less expensive too. A recent search showed that 2,300 pages of dot matrix paper costs about $40 retail. 2,500 pages of laser paper costs only $30. Those $10 of savings can be passed onto me. The way I see it I could save a cool 30 cents per rental day. And with my 4 day weekend rental I'd actually save enough for a vanilla cone at McDonald's. That's what I call living the life!

But beyond the cost and the age of the technology what about the environmental impact? Many of these rental car companies are trying to go "Green" by bringing in more hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles. Great! Of course we all know that they have embraced technology in other areas of their business. We rarely just walk up to a rental counter at the airport anymore and ask for a car. We don't even call the companies and make a reservation. Almost all reservations for rental cars are done online (and many now-33% by some measures-are done via mobile). So why are we still given a paper rental agreement when we check in at the counter?

You would think that with all the technology we would have the ability to have our rental agreement emailed or texted to our phones. We could just show a bar code at the security booth and pull off the lot with our vehicle for the week. Think how much paper that could eliminate? If you figure that it takes about 2 pages of 8.5x11" paper to make the rental jacket and the agreement and there are were 1.6 million rentals in 2010. That means something along the lines of 3.2 million pieces of paper could be eliminated. On average, one tree produces 83 pounds of paper, and 500 sheets of 20lb paper weighs 5 pounds. So the paper saved would weigh about and the paper saved represents about 32,000 pounds and if this change could be implemented across the board it could mean upwards of 385 trees saved a year.

That doesn't sound like much until you look at a one-acre property (very big by East Coast standards) holds about 100 trees. So we're talking about almost 4 acres worth of trees every year. Since the NFL season kicks off tomorrow, call it about 4 football fields worth of trees.

This will serve as my final environmental warning for the day. Now back to your regularly scheduled complaint fest.

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