Along with a laptop, printer, or a cell phone they should include “recycling mentality” on that back-to-school list for college students. Colleges and universities are a huge source of paper waste. Seeing as how we can save more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space with every ton of paper we recycle or avoid incinerating it at large municipal water facilities, schools should do more to encourage students in the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper and poster-board items account for the largest percentage of the municipal solid waste stream (MSW). 33% of the MSW is all paper, even though as a whole, paper is one of the most recovered materials.
1 – Print sparingly: This is a hard one to tackle, because oftentimes it’s the professor that calls for a 10-page, double-spaced paper along with a cover sheet. Try saving paper and ink by:
Utilize your printer’s many settings. Print pages on the low quality setting unless a good presentation is required. I used the low-quality setting for many essays and reports, saving the high-quality setting for end-of-term papers and the like.
Printing on both sides (you may have to ask your professor if this is alright, but I’ve never had a professor take issue with this). Also, oftentimes, your printer kicks out a few extra pages with a few lines of print on it. Simply, save these pages and flip these over and use the clean blank side for drafts or non-critical printing.
2 – Utilize the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Reduce: Bookmark pages that aren’t necessary to print or you may use your cellphone or iPad to view the page while working on whatever project it helps you with. You don’t really need to print out that 3-page instructionsheet on how to dance (or do you?). Reuse: Keep the pages that you’ve printed and don’t need to turn in. You can use them later for printing drafts, recipes, etc., that are for personal use. Recycle: Set paper and paper products aside that you plan on recycling, this way there is no confusion when throwing away garbage and recyclable materials. Locate the recycling bins on your campus and dispose of the paper in the appropriate bin. The US paper industry hopes to recover 60% of all paper that we consume by 2012. Let’s help make that goal a reality.
Interested in some fascinating sleuthing about the true sorry of recycling, where our trash really goes? Download a copy of Garbage Land or read the GreenBlizzard review of Garbage Land by Elizabeth Boyle. It’s a great read to really understand what happens to all of our discards – the secret trail of trash. A ultimate trashy non-fiction, maybe even a beach read.
Or print on these recycled paper products: