By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
A great “reduce” lesson this school year is cutting back on paper use at your school. Paper, as everyone knows, is a precious resource, often coming from trees in the United States, the boreal forests in Canada and rain forests in Indonesia.
The facts and figures on U.S. paper use are astonishing: 600 pounds of paper are used per person per year, requiring 535 million trees and 12 million gallons of oil for manufacturing. Eighty percent of paper ends up in landfills, accounting for 38 percent of all U.S. trash. At school, paper accounts for 50 percent of trash.
A paper reduction plan can be an excellent classroom tool for teaching math, science and environmentalism. Money can be saved by reducing purchasing of paper, toner and ink cartridges, and on disposal costs.
Here are steps suggested by the Northeast Recycling Council:
Set a paper reduction policy in your classroom, school and/or school district.
Educate staff and students about the program. Build support from staff, teachers, custodians, parents, PTOs, the superintendent and the community recycling coordinator.
Post signs on printers and copiers.
Reuse single-sided paper.
Change the default settings on all copiers and printers to double-sided.
Set reduction goals and track paper usage, and centralize ordering.
Replace towel dispensers in bathrooms with hand dryers.
In the classroom, try these tips:
• “Think inside” the 11½-x-7-inch paper size by printing and writing on half or quarter sheets of paper.
• Use e-mail to send materials home and go online for submitting homework.
• Use school PA system, bulletin boards or class recycling reps to offer reminders and updates on tracking goals.
To get a school program going start small with a classroom audit and grow from there.