Ryman Eco:
The World's Most Sustainable Font?

“It isn't just what you write that can make a difference, it's how you write it,” declares the ad for Ryman Eco, a new font by stationary brand Ryman and ad agency Grey London.

Ryman claims that its new font, which is available for free download, uses a third less ink and toner than standard fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia and Verdana. The company believes that if everyone used the new font, it would save over 490 million ink cartridges and could help lower CO2 emissions by over 6.5 million tons, the equivalent of 15 million barrels of oil every year.

Grey London came up with the concept and approached Ryman.

“We realised if we could make the words and numbers we print more efficient, then we’d make cartridges more efficient too, reducing their environmental impact,” said Nils Leonard, Grey London’s Executive Creative Director. “I tweeted Ryman owner Theo Paphitis with our idea for a good thing a stationer could do for the planet and he understood its wide-ranging implications straight away. A month later, we’ve developed an environmentally friendly font the world will really want to print with. Sustainable. Beautiful. Free.”

“At Ryman we love print. But we don’t like what it does to the planet,” Paphitis said. “Recycling alone isn’t doing enough. So I am asking individuals and businesses, especially those who use print a lot in their day-to-day operations, to download Ryman Eco for free and make it their default print font. It's the easiest thing in the world to do but could make a world of difference.”

The font has been designed by Monotype and Hogarth. Dan Rhatigan, Type Director at Monotype, explained the process.

“The entire concept for Ryman Eco is about the final print experience and finding the perfect balance between saving ink, legibility and aesthetics. To encourage enough interest so that people would want to use the font, we needed to make something that would be visually interesting at a close look or a large size, but useful and effective for everyday printed text. We looked at how our eyes and brains compensate by filling in ‘missing’ areas and how much of a character we can remove before we lose the sense of its form. Then we pushed the character forms to make them even more interesting and distinctly Ryman without using more ink.”

The idea of more efficient fonts is not new. Dutch company Spranq released its Ecofont in 2008. Closer to home, fonts were big news when teenager Suvir Mirchandani told the US government it could save nearly $400 million by simply changing the font used in official documents.

In other approach to reducing the environmental impact of printing, software startup PrintEco developed a plug-in for commonly used browsers and applications such as Microsoft Office that automatically optimizes the content of documents to fit on a smaller number of pages — helping users save paper and reduce printing costs.

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