Fredonia's Sustainable University

April 19, 2010

Filed under: University Living — profsmcgee @ 11:55 am
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Ellen Li

Paperless university

Go green initiative to reduce paper usage on campus

        As a student, I use lot of paper on a daily basis, taking class note, term papers, exam paper, handout for classes and the list goes on.  And by the end of every semester, I have tons of papers that are stored in boxes that consist of notes for school, personal stuff, receipts and bank statements, etc.  If there is one thing that I can do and should do to live more greenly is to reduce paper usage in school and in my personal life. The focus of the research is to find creative ways that student and faculty can do to reduce paper usage.

Fredonia‘s effort in going paperless

I started paying attention to what efforts are taking by the school to reduce paper usage, and I have found several things that school already is doing. If you have use the printer in the library, you have probably noticed that the print default is set to print on both sides. This single act has save 50% of the paper. Other things like set up paper recycle bin in the library to encourage student to recycle paper. School has also set up a magazine swap stand in William Center that allow student to share and exchange magazine. So instead of buy several subscription of magazine that you would like to read, you can subscribe to just one and exchange with other students for your other favorite magazines. Do you know that you could save money by bringing your own mug for coffee in all coffee shop on the campus? I have also notice that blackboard and angle site increased the efficiency of information sharing between student and teacher. Teacher no longer need to bring stack of notes to class, student are able to login to angle and access the information.  In addition, school has recently posted the course catalog online where student can access to easier and quickly. Library database also  allows student to access to journals, newspaper, and other literatures online and at home. While doing this research I found that having the ability to access to information online is an advantage that save time, energy, and which is more efficient way of searching for information and organizing the research data.

Why a paperless society is still not here?

When computer was invented about 30 years ago, experts predicted that paper would eventually disappear from our life, and eventually we will move toward a paperless society, however, it never happened. We are used to writing on a paper; hold on to a paper on hand just feels right to us.  Paper still exists in forms such as book, magazine, and newspaper. But there is a reduce of paper use in recent year according to the research, the phrases paperless society simply means that we are moving toward a society where we used the technology that is available and use less paper. A complete paperless society might be a myth I predicted. New technology such as portable net book-portable computer, kindle DX –reader, and ipad has transform the way that we access to information.

Why does it matter?

 According to the study by the energy information administration, a division of the U.S 

Department of Energy, the paper industry emits the fourth highest level of carbon

Dioxide among manufacturers, after the chemical, petroleum and coal products,

and primary metals industries.

Pick one

I wanted to found out if paper is really more environmental detrimental than an electronic device such as an eBook reader. According to the life cycle analysis of the printed book and an electronic reader, printed book generates much more carbon footprint than electronic devise such as the eBook reader. I realized that not everyone can afford a kindle eBook reader. But there are other little things that student and faculty can to make a difference. ….

Let’s start a trend …

I started research for things that student and faculty can do to reduce paper usage.

There are three basic ways to do it-recycle, reduce, and reuse paper. For example, student can take advantage of the pdf file function when doing a research.  Save the pdf file of the journals on a laptop, use the read it out loud function instead of print it out. To reduce paper and clutter in the office or in the dorm, take advantage of the scanner, scanner all important documents and recycles all the unneeded paper. The file on the computer is searchable and accessible, but remember to always back up your files on the computer.  I have listed other creative ways that student and faculty can do to reduce paper usage in the blog — link listed below. By generating practical action step that student and faculty can take , I wish they found it creative and would be interesting to apply those different ways of doing things that would reduce the usage of paper on campus, I believe that if all of us are doing something, together we can make a difference in the world. I have also included a little fun stories showing the transition from paper age to electronic age, and what our future are heading toward.

Is a future of paperless society a myth or reality, what do you think?

I invite you to join the weekly discussion in my blog or simply check it out


For more information:

Environmental Protection Agency

Forest Stewardship Council

Paper Recycle

Pushing Paper Out of the Door

Fewer Fliers Sent Home as Schools Put More on Web


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