When you're reading the back of a cereal box, a new novel or newspaper, or even a colleague's business card, there's a chance you’re reading veggies. As the need for eco-friendlier inks is gaining traction with printers and a number of product brands, all those words you’re seeing are that much more likely to be printed with materials you’d usually find in the supermarket — think all kinds of edible plants, from vegetables to soy, and even flaxseeds.

Plant-derived inks are gaining popularity, especially by eco-conscious companies and particularly as a complement to recycled or recyclable packaging and printed materials, often making packages much more biodegradable. These natural-material-based inks are an interesting alternative to the current standard, petroleum-based inks.

As printing moves back toward vegetable-based inks, you might begin to hear more about them or see their use mentioned on your favorite cookie or cracker box. Never thought twice about what’s on your packaging? Here are some of the basics:

What’s the norm? Read now!

What makes plant-based inks better? Read now!

Other than soy, what's used to make eco-friendly inks? Read now!

What can I look for when I shop? Read now!

How about my at-home projects and printers? Read later!

If you need to have something printed — from business materials to party invitations — seek out printers who use plant-derived inks.

For at-home printing, even if you can't use eco-friendly inks, there are ways that you can still be eco-responsible while printing.

Ecofont, a company that alters fonts so that they require 25% less toner to print, is planning todebut a home edition. Using certain fonts, such as Century Gothic, can also save toner — in some tests by Printer.com, it showed a 31% savings over the default font Arial, and even used less toner than Ecofont.

Many printers can use refillable ink cartridges or continuous ink systems (in which ink in bulk bottles is continuously fed into the cartridges via tubes); both of these systems can reduce the waste caused by disposable ink cartridges.

What were you surprised to learn about eco-friendly inks? Share your comments below!

Recyclebank's Partners In Purpose want to help you make smarter choices when you shop for your home, by keeping the environment in mind. From sustainably-sourced and organic ingredients, to fair trade standards and sustainable packaging, the Partners in Purpose are rooted in the philosophy of doing well while doing good, all in their own way.

To learn more about Recyclebank's Partners In Purpose and making smarter choices while you shop (and to check out some great rewards!), visit Recyclebank.com/PartnersInPurpose.