WWF: A New File Format
The World Wildlife Fund has started a new campaign to save files as WWF, a file format that is effectively a PDF with printing disabled. While their intent is noble and there are serious issues with deforestation and water pollution from paper mills, is this really an effective solution, or is this just another process that will make people feel good while actually accomplishing nothing?
There are valid cases for printing PDF files:
- When sending a PDF instead of mailing a document, there is no wasted paper on packaging, there is no expended fuel in delivery1, and the group sending the document does not need to maintain large quantities of the file already printed (as most print orders are done in multiples of 500 or 1000)
- The file will need to be used where there is not readily available power and/or it would be difficult to use
- Someone is creating documentation for working offline.
Now, if I send you the document as a PDF, you have the choice to print or not to print. Granted, some people print regardless, but disallowing a user to print? For me this begs the question, why don’t we just encourage people to not print out PDFs?
There has to be some monetary cost to printing at a company. Can we offer incentives to users who print less instead of creating a file format that requires more software to be installed and users to be educated, etc.?
Is this the right solution to the problem of executives gone wild with the print menu item?
1 Okay, yes, there is some micro-expenditure of fuel to generate the electrons required to send the PDF and operate the computer, but nowhere near the amount used in traditional mail.