Nation's 100 Percent Green Printer is in Chicago

Consolidated Printing uses no toxic chemicals in its processes.

By Ginger Zee
|  Thursday, Apr 22, 2010  |  Updated 9:00 PM CDT
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Chicago's Consolidated Printing is a model for the printing industry on how to print without health harming chemicals.

Chicago's Consolidated Printing is a model for the printing industry on how to print without health harming chemicals.

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Despite the use of soy ink and recycled paper, the printing industry isn't one of the healthiest.  But at least one Chicago company is trying to change that.

Traditional printing operations use a bevy of substances -- heavy metals, cadmium, lead and toxic chemicals -- that can negatively affect the health of employees.

Chicago's Consolidated Printing is different.  The Northwest side company has won national awards for its quality and sustainability and is considered to be 100 natural.

"We have low absenteeism here. Our guys are healthy. They know they are breathing good air," said Consolidated's president and owner, Marilyn Jones.

Jones bought the company in the 70s for $5,000, and one of her first clients was a vitamin manufacturer who taught her that what a person touches and what they breathe can affect their health.  In 1974, the company began the long journey to become totally green.

 "I started using household products like Crisco and vinegar. Crisco is a lubricant; vinegar is a neutralizer," said. 

Indeed, cans of shortening still sit on top of the printers, vinegar lines the shelves and used cooking oil replaced toxic parts cleaners.

"We finally removed the last chemical about a year and a half ago," Jones said.  "Our ink is all natural, the pigments are all natural."

The company's Environmental Director says the green doesn't stop at the printing.

"The carpet is recycled, we understand from coke bottles. The lighting, everything was retrofitted to be sustainable," said Walter Jones.

Marilyn Jones says the all-natural thing is worth it.

"You can do green printing and still print quality pieces. I don’t want to hear about anyone getting sick from being in print shops," she said.

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