Tree protector and waste crusader
- Carissa Wodehouse
- SW Connection - News
A Hillsdale native's software can save millions of trees
We expect a lot from computers, but sometimes they deliver things we don't want, like pleas from Nigerian diplomats, offers for discounted hair loss products and that extra page or two of gobbledygook that often comes out when we print.
Most people just shrug off the problem, but for Hayden Hamilton, those excess pages represented an unnecessary waste of money, waste of paper and an opportunity to create entrepreneurial software. Hamilton's concern led to his just-launched company, GreenPrint.
The concept for GreenPrint emerged when Hamilton, 29, a Hillsdale native, was consulting at Ford of Europe. He says he discovered in Ford's office '10 print stations with two or three printers each, overflowing with orphaned pages.'
He already had been thinking about paper waste while on a fellowship to study ecotourism in Southeast Asia in 2000 (he has an MBA from Oxford University), where quality paper was scarce.
After some typical startup challenges, Hamilton is now receiving calls from Portland businesses thanking him for bringing recognition to the local green sector.
GreenPrint's launch in November garnered an unexpected amount of national press as well, including a coveted review by Walt Mosser in the Wall Street Journal and praise on CNBC.
Hamilton, a Wilson High School graduate from the class of '95, said his largest hurdle has been reaching the home market and convincing individuals that they too can have an impact on the environment by reducing home waste.
Expertise in the paperless realm
The scarcity of access to quality health care had been Hamilton's cause before he turned his attention to overflowing office printers. In 2004, he founded ProgressiveRx.com, offering prescription drugs on the Web at 80 percent to 90 percent below U.S. retail prices through an office in Bangalore, India. The next year he founded the nonprofit Progressive Health Worldwide, which works to supply medical supplies and technology to African agencies. Hamilton's father Robert, a member of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association, now serves as the director of that company.
About a year ago, Hamilton began working with friend James Kellerman, whom he had met at Ford, to acquire investors and develop a beta version of GreenPrint. Hamilton said he credits his grandmother, a strong advocate of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, as the source of his green conscience. (The Sierra Club is now judging GreenPrint for a green technologies award.)
For software development they teamed with Aditi Technologies in Bellevue, Wash. Just over half the company budget has come from Hamilton's own pocket.
The GreenPrint software, Hamilton explains, 'works on an algorithm that screens pages for common waste characteristics - a page with only a URL, or the legal jargon after an airline ticket - and highlights the page.'
In plain English that means that after opening a document and hitting the print button, the standard print window opens. After a few clicks to select the program from the printer list, the waste page appears in red. The elimination is confirmed with another click, and the document sent to print without the extra page.
Users can see
One tool that will appeal to techies and environmentalists alike is a waste prevention monitor. It tracks the number of sheets prevented from printing and converts it to money saved (in ink and paper) and - most entertaining - the number of trees saved.
Users can track their individual savings and their company savings overall. Hamilton estimates that 'a large organization could save 10-plus trees a day.'
Another function included in the software is a PDF writer similar to Adobe Acrobat. The function provides a one-click way for users to save documents off the Internet, such as receipts or articles, as PDF files, which serve as an alternative to printing.
In addition to saving resources, there is the social impact of a program that reminds users of the environment every time they print.
Kim Silva, a foundation specialist at the Outdoor School of Multnomah County, which will be receiving several gift copies of GreenPrint, says, 'Not only will the software save paper and printing costs, but it is also a product that fits strongly with the Outdoor School message. We can demonstrate to our students how to conserve.'
Environmental groups American Forests, Arbor Day and the local organization Friends of Trees also have endorsed GreenPrint. Scott Fogerty of Friends of Trees says his group supports the program because it promotes the idea that 'green practices make good environmental and economic sense.'
GreenPrint has growth aspirations including a Mac version, a carbon credit program and a map on the GreenPrint Web site that Hamilton hopes will show 'where savings are preventing deforestation and how that is reducing greenhouse gases.'
With a company of 10 based in Portland and a number of environmental supporters, Hamilton has another ambition:'We hope to save 1 million trees by the end of 2007.'