I’m at the library amongst the rows of studiers, nappers, and the ever-present distracters; scanning my essay for last-minute edits. I make my way to the printing station, where there always seems to be a line, and watch the guy in front of me print out what must be a 30-page article. That got me thinking about the tons of paper needed to supply just one day of work at UVa- and all the ways in which we could lower our demand. Who knew that in 2011, college students in the United States printed over 4 billion pages? And that only includes the printing done inside college libraries and media centers. Yikes.
There are some simple ways we can cut down on our paper waste, wherever you may be! Just think about all the trees you’ll save.
- Print on BOTH sides of the page. In the print settings, there is an option to print one-sided or double-sided, so with just one more click of the mouse you could cut down on 50% of the paper you use!
- Print multiple “pages” on one page. Many times the font is still plenty big enough. And hey you were just going to skim it anyway right? 😉
- Buy “green books” for your exams instead of blue books- they’re the same thing except green books are made from 100% recycled paper. Trust me, your professor won’t mind the difference.
- Try to only print what you absolutely need. Many professors post on-line materials, which can be even better than printed ones since you are guaranteed not to misplace them. Plus all laptops nowadays have a highlighter tool that is just as easy to use as you were to print it out and highlight it. Colorful and sustainable!
- If you print from home, buy paper that is produced by a company committed to environmental conservancy and minimizing ecological impacts. While you’re at it, buy inks with non-petroleum bases to emit lower amounts of VOCs.
- Re-use notebooks! Chances are a one-semester class does not fill up even a standard one-subject notebook, so resist the temptation to buy a new, pristine notebook and just use part two of your old one. Seriously-how fulfilling would it be if you actually used it to the very last page???
It turns out I’m not the only one who was bothered by the thought of all that paper waste! Something really cool I found and definitely worth sharing is Print-A-Forest, a program by a University of Michigan student, Joe Miller, that keeps track of how many pages you print and for every 100 pages donates money to plant a tree. Check it out!!