PA teen could save the U.S. $400 million in ink

Red tape. We've all had to deal with it, whether you're trying to change your name after getting married or change your mailing address, dealing the the government at any level is enough to drive most of us to drink. But, really, most of that red tape isn't red at all—it's typically black ink on white paper and an angsty clerk who's bothered by your mere existence.

That black ink and white paper adds up to cost the country millions and millions of dollars annually. One hero teen from a Pittsburgh-area middle school has an incredible idea to cut down on that figure, though: change the font.

Suvir Mirchandi is a 14-year-old student at Dorseyville Middle School who started a science fair project comparing different types of font to see which used the most ink. The results were staggering.

Collecting random samples of teachers' handouts, Suvir concentrated on the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r).

First, he charted how often each character was used in four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Then he measured how much ink was used for each letter, using a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software.

Next he enlarged the letters, printed them and cut them out on cardstock paper to weigh them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font.

From this analysis, Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.

If the United States heeded Mirchandi's advice, the federal government could save nearly $400 million.

Using the General 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. [CNN]