5 Ways Your School Can Reduce Its Paper Consumption

Around 300 million tons of paper are produced globally each year and 366 million tons of paper are consumed. The United States is one of the largest paper consumers, with a per capita consumption more than six times greater than the world average. With more and more trees being cut down each year, the earth is unable to fight against growing CO2 emissions as it once could, because most of the land cleared of trees is used for agricultural purposes. Deforestation is causing a plethora of issues for the environment, including higher global temperatures, rising sea levels due to melting ice, and faster extinction of regional plants and animals. 

What does this have to do with education? It’s no secret that schools play a big role in the consumption of paper in the United States. Not only does relying primarily on paper processes negatively affect the environment, but it incurs additional costs for the institution, too. Those include costs associated with printing, copying, storing, recycling, disposing, and more. Not to mention, it can take days to share information via paper documents.

So, how can your school reduce paper consumption and become more environmentally friendly? By following the tips below.

1. Replace Pen And Paper Attendance Tracking

Today, just about every college student carries their mobile device to class with them. There are attendance solutions available to schools that take advantage of the ubiquity of those devices and digitize the attendance taking process. By getting rid of pen and paper attendance tracking, attendance data is more accurate, instructors don’t have to deal with manual data entry, and registrars have access to the data seconds after class starts.

Estimated sheets saved: 2/day/class

2. Store Institutional Information In The Cloud

A massive amount of paper is allocated to record keeping in schools. Whether it’s student records, grades, instructor information, or any other data, there are cloud solutions out there that can easily store all of your important documents. Not only will it save hundreds of sheets of paper, but it will save your school physical storage space and allow any authorized personnel access to documents within seconds.

Estimated sheets saved: 10/student/cohort

3. Utilize eBooks Instead Of Textbooks

According to Lead Wins, 25% of college students buy new textbooks. And those books can range in length from 80 pages to over 500 pages! And oftentimes, the cost of buying textbooks deters students from staying enrolled in certain classes. By switching to eBooks, schools eradicate hundreds of sheets of paper and send the message to publishers that digital is the way forward. 

Estimated sheets saved: 300/student/class

4. Digitize In-Class Quizzes And Assessments

Much like digitizing attendance, schools have software options that would enable quizzes, assessments, and other assignments to be conducted on students’ mobile devices. In addition to saving paper, digitizing in-class quizzes allows for instant grading, saving instructors hours of time each week. 

Estimated sheets saved: 20/class/week

5. Share Information Across Departments Electronically

Many official documents are shared between school departments via hand-delivered mail. Any printed document has an electronic file associated with it, so share that file with colleagues over email. Your school will save the paper used to print documents, as well as the paper used to create the envelopes carrying the documents! Benefits of sharing documents electronically include needing just a fraction of the delivery time and reducing the risk for damage or misplacement down to almost none.

Estimated Sheets Saved: 30/week

To calculate the total estimated sheets saved, we’re using a theoretical class of 20 students that has instruction five times per week for five weeks. By following each of the tips above, this single class would save 6,500 sheets of paper. Just imagine how much paper an entire school could save!

Dealing with paper has so many costs associated with it: printing, storage, durability, disposal, and, worst of all, paper cuts. But the cost to our environment — rising temperatures, flooding due to increased sea levels, accelerated extinction of certain wildlife, and more — is much greater. 

Small steps are better than no steps. Even actions that marginally reduce paper will have long term impacts on our environment, as well as improve daily operations for your school immediately. So why not kill two birds with one stone by following the tips above.

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