Cut Down Consumption, Not Trees

Today we celebrate planet Earth. We celebrate the millions of coincidences that all perfectly fell into place for our planet to not only host life, but allow life to flourish. The history of Earth is an incredible series of events that has led us to life on Earth as we know it today. And it’s easy to take for granted.

palm trees by the ocean

While we celebrate our planet, let’s remind ourselves to examine and reevaluate our way of living to prolong the life of Earth that we’re familiar with. Whatever your stance on climate change, one thing is undeniable: the growth rate of human existence and the resources we use in addition to the waste we generate is not sustainable. We’re consuming more resources and generating more waste than ever before. And these metrics are increasing at an exponential rate as the human population continues to grow. To slow down our resource consumption and output of waste, we must think of innovative and creative ways to adjust our habits to be more sustainable. Luckily for us, many new technologies have emerged that make it possible to easily increase sustainability — we just need to make the transition. While there are many initiatives to help increase Earth’s sustainability such as utilizing renewable energy, improving waste management, and cleaning our oceans, one very critical phenomenon that we have the ability to dramatically impact with new technology is deforestation.

It’s common knowledge that trees turn the carbon dioxide we exhale into oxygen for us to breathe. Trees seem so commonplace that it’s hard to imagine there will ever be a scarce amount of them on Earth. According to the journal Nature, the world is home to more than 3 trillion trees. Throughout history, humans have played a key role in determining the number of living trees, researchers note. The truth is, the number of living trees is dwindling as the human population on Earth continues to increase. People cut down 15 billion trees each year and the global tree count has fallen by 46% since the beginning of human civilization.

A big contributor to deforestation each year is education systems around the globe. In the United States, as well as other countries, the education sector is highly reliant on paper, from K-12 to post-secondary institutions. Paper is used in a plethora of ways, including for exams, printed textbooks, written homework assignments,  attendance, and recorded grades. Those use cases don’t even include the administrative applications of paper, which use an immense amount of paper as well. With the advancement of technology and the increasingly popular use of computers and mobile devices in education systems, schools across the nation, and worldwide, have the ability to cut down their paper consumption.

One way that post-secondary institutions have drastically decreased their paper consumption is by using CourseKey to digitize many of their administrative processes typically conducted using pen and paper. CourseKey’s CEO, Luke Sophinos, explains how this ideology of sustainability has guided the company from day one: “CourseKey’s vision is to enable organizations to collect, measure and understand real-time learning at scale. One of the ways we plan to achieve this is by creating paper-free learning environments in brick-and-mortar classrooms, clinicals and externships. Our paper-free approach inspired the brand’s color green and today we’re celebrating CourseKey’s impact of significantly cutting down paper use in organizations across the country.”

The company’s paper-free approach eradicates administrative paper processes as well as in-class tasks. By utilizing the devices that students already bring to class, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones, schools have the ability to digitize processes like taking attendance and conducting assessments, while providing eBook capabilities to students. CourseKey rounds out the paper-free learning environment by leveraging communication capabilities between mobile devices to create learning communities and easily share data between students, instructors, and staff members. Because each institution has slightly different ways of conducting administrative processes and in-class tasks, it’s challenging to determine the exact number of trees that schools using CourseKey save. However, it’s no exaggeration to claim that thousands of trees are left standing each year that would normally supply these institutions with paper.

An added bonus to transitioning to a paper-free learning environment is that utilizing technology in education is favorable to students today. This generation of students progressing through education systems have grown up around technology, specifically mobile devices, and prefer to use technology in class over paper and pencil. In a survey of some students at Emerson College, those majoring in Writing, Literature, and Publishing tend to prefer the digital medium to print, citing the ease of access, lack of damage to the environment, and lower costs as the deciding factors. With not enough print credits given to college students, particularly those who will have to take at least four writing courses if not more, it’s quite taxing on the college student’s budget—and mind—to print so much paper.

Many institutions have already cut down on their paper use and paper waste by using CourseKey’s digital solutions. These schools are helping to set the standard of social responsibility and will continue to lead the education sector to sustainable best practices. While the money saved on paper, ink, printing cost, and maintenance add up to a significant amount of dollars per year, the real benefit is the amount of trees that remain standing due to a high decrease in demand for paper. As we celebrate our amazing planet and all of the life that it sustains today, let’s take the time to reevaluate our daily processes to see if we can adjust to more environmentally friendly practices. If your school is ready to reduce paper usage, schedule a demo of CourseKey’s solution below.

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