You would think one of the millions of government drones would realize how to save the taxpayers money with a creative idea. Nope. It takes a 14 year old doing a science project to figure out a simple painless way to save taxpayers $400 million per year. Watch the interview at the link. The kid reached out to the Federal government for input when he started his project. Of course they didn’t respond to his request. They’re the government. After he got some publicity, the government drones showed up. Will they implement his easy cost savings technique. Of course not. They’re the government.

In case you were wondering, Suvir doesn’t go to John Bartram High School or West Philly High.


(CNN) — An e. You can write it with one fluid swoop of a pen or one tap of the keyboard. The most commonly used letter in the English dictionary. Simple, right?

Now imagine it printed out millions of times on thousands of forms and documents. Then think of how much ink would be needed.

OK, so that may have been a first for you, but it came naturally to 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani when he was trying to think of ways to cut waste and save money at his Pittsburgh-area middle school.

It all started as a science fair project. As a neophyte sixth-grader at Dorseyville Middle School, Suvir noticed he was getting a lot more handouts than he did in elementary school.

Interested in applying computer science to promote environmental sustainability, Suvir decided he was going to figure out if there was a better way to minimize the constant flurry of paper and ink.

Reducing paper use through recycling and dual-sided printing had been talked about before as a way to save money and conserve resources, but there was less attention paid to the ink for which the paper served as a canvas for history and algebra handouts.

“Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume,” Suvir says with a chuckle.

He’s right: Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce, while the equivalent amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75.

So Suvir decided to focus his project on finding ways to cut down on the costly liquid.

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.

Encouraged by his teacher, Suvir looked to publish his findings and stumbled on the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI), a publication founded by a group of Harvard grad students in 2011 that provides a forum for the work of middle school and high school students. It has the same standards as academic journals, and each submission is reviewed by grad students and academics.

14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani began studying fonts as part of a science fair project.
14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani began studying fonts as part of a science fair project.

Sarah Fankhauser, one of JEI’s founders, says that of the nearly 200 submissions they have received since 2011, Suvir’s project was a real standout:

“We were so impressed. We really could really see the real-world application in Suvir’s paper.”

Fankhauser said Suvir’s findings were so clear, simple and well thought-out, it had the peer reviewers at JEI asking, “How much potential savings is really out there?”

For the answer, JEI challenged Suvir to apply his project to a larger scale: the federal government.

With an annual printing expenditure of $1.8 billion, the government was a much more challenging task than his school science project.

Suvir repeated his tests on five sample pages from documents on the Government Printing Office website and got similar results — change the font, save money.

Will government printers embrace a change?

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.

Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office, describes Suvir’s work as “remarkable.” But he was noncommittal on whether the GPO would introduce changes to typeface, saying the GPO’s efforts to become more environmentally sustainable were focused on shifting content to the Web.

“In 1994, we were producing 20,000 copies a day of both the Federal Register and Congressional Record. Twenty years later, we produce roughly 2,500 print copies a day,” he said.

On top of this, the Congressional Register is printed on recycled paper, which GPO has been doing for five or six years, Somerset says.

One federal initiative that focuses on minimizing ink-usage is called “Printwise.” Organized by the General Services Administration, it teaches government offices how to default their computer settings to Times New Roman, Garamond and Century Gothic to minimize printing waste. According to GSA’s press secretary Dan Cruz, they hope this type of initiative could save the federal government up to $30 million annually.

Suvir appreciates the government’s efforts, but he sees his project as a means of making an even bigger impact nationwide.

“Consumers are still printing at home, they can make this change too,” he says.

Holding out hope

At 14, Suvir understands how difficult such a project might be to implement — “I recognize it’s difficult to change someone’s behavior. That’s the most difficult part.”

But he holds out hope: “I definitely would love to see some actual changes and I’d be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible.”

With decades ahead to lend a hand, Suvir and other young men and women like him may even be able to untangle some of the knotty political and technical issues that beset Washington, corporate suites and the world at large.


  1. Great idea, a foreign student (or second generation). Considering the government spends $400 million every twenty minutes, I’ll quote the illustrious Hillary Clinton’s famous comment about Marines and an ambassador being murdered in Libya: “at this point, what difference does it make?”.

    The government isn’t interested in saving money, ever. That might cost a union government drone his job some day, and they can’t have that. They will probably spend $400 million on a study of his idea, and another $400 million trying to implement it, and yet another $400 million when their inept implementation fails. A new department will be formed, costing $400 million, and staffed with union government drones costing $400 million a year. So, an idea to save $400 million will end up costing $2.4 billion. The punk should have kept his mouth shut.

  2. Wow! It is very encouraging to learn about a middle-school student who is honing his analytical and critical thinking skills and applying them to solving real-world problems.

    I hope he is encouraged to keep on challenging the status quo…

    Suvir deserves scholarships and grant monies from private foundations. Anybody out there who can get these applications into his hands so he can be compensated for his creativity?

    The Elks, The Lions, Dollars for Scholars are some orgs that come to mind. We need to make him a hero and reward him, don’t ya think?

    1. Mary

      He must be stopped. He’s a troublemaker. He can think. That is dangerous. Our keepers don’t want critical thinking individuals who question the existing paradigm. He is now under constant surveillance by Big Brother/NSA. He will be led into Room 101 and be told that rats will be released to gnaw his face off unless he conforms and becomes addicted to his iGadget and reality TV.

  3. “Suvir deserves scholarships and grant monies from private foundations”

    Sorry, but Suvir is not one of the “chosen” minorities that qualifies for, or gets scholarships or grant money. He’s not underprivileged, he’s not a victim of “the system”, not a person of color, and doesn’t fulfill any quotas or affirmative action guidelines. He’s not a victim of white privileged, wasn’t raised in a ghetto, and his ancestors weren’t slaves. In short, he will get no scholarships or monies.

  4. I’m surprised that the government was already encouraging low-ink-use fonts. As soon as they switch from encouraging to requiring then there’ll be a department of fonts that reports to Richard Cordray.

  5. ” … his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.” ————- from the article

    So, his school district buys $80,000 annually just in ink?? Seems pretty farfetched. Whatever.

    Why does he stop with Garamond? There are even thinner fonts available. Like the one below. I have calculated that the government would save $545 Billion dollars using this font. Where’s my fucking Nobel Prize?

    Further savings can be had by eliminating all “BOLD” fonts. Disable that fucking ctrl-b shit! Even more savings can be had by limiting fonts to 10-point. Lastly, here is my HUGE savings idea …. eliminate the letter “E”. That fucker is everywhere. You don’t need it … the human brain KNOWS it’s there even when it’s not … for example, “mothrfuckr”. You KNOW it’s motherfucker, don’t you??

    I am convincd my findings will liminat the whol mothrfuckn Fdral Dbt !!

  6. I feel your pain, Stuck, I hate it when someone comes up with an idea I discarded in the toilet a long time before. They say inspiration is 1% and perspiration 99% of success. Edison probably.

  7. An even better way to save ink is not to print unnecessary documents in the first place. Saves a LOT more than ink, and in today’s era of entirely portable computing, the NEED to print EVERYTHING must surely have declined somewhat??

  8. Was watching a consumer/small biz security expert on tv the other day. He mentioned that no one should be keeping private tax documents, pictures or anything you wouldn’t want run on the first page of a newspaper on a computer with internet access.

    EVERYTHING on our “private” computers is open to government hacking. The average guy just doesn’t get that with the cooperation of tech companies and our government, if somebody wants the info off your computer they will get it.

    He suggested we print everything off and store offsite. I was floored. Computers will create a paperless society indeed.

    I would just transfer everything to an external hard-drive, back it up to two more, then delete off my computer – which is exactly what I’m doing, just with files dating back to the early 90s (I kid you not), it takes a while.

    The joke of the savings is that by the time Congress held investigational hearings, committees were formed, experts were consulted and paid, then every piece of paper already in existence (think operational manuals and the like) would likely have to be reprinted. Which means the savings would never happen, and if history was to be our guide it would also mean future costs and departments and employees to “oversee” the policy.

    It is far too late to expect anything like this to have any effect other than increasing costs. Government is one of the only industries I’ve ever seen that thinks spending 3x the price of something to talk about buying it, or implementing it, or maintaining it, is somehow being “frugal.”

    Or, even worse, would be the next time we drop by Irs.g o v to find that they have changed their font on the website to save energy, and the planet.

    Sadly amusing there are still people that think this spending issue can be “fixed,” by anything other than complete dismantling. Normalcy bias is a bitch.

  9. That kid will never be hired by government & will be branded a terrorist.

    I can save even more money, cut 90% of the govt’s expenses! Even more than that little statist shithead.

    If it ain’t in the Constitution, it isn’t funded & is shut down.
    There you go.

  10. Stucky, that was fucking funny.

    AWD has a problem with black people, appears to blame all the worlds ills on blacks on welfare. As if those poor schmucks hold the levers of power. Not knowing the real enemy, wasting valuable time & effort. The elite love it.


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