This is my fifth year teaching environmental science (seventh year teaching), and I feel more and more responsibility to be a good role model for my students.
Paper use is a constant battle in our school. Not only is paper expensive, it’s often wasted. Nothing frustrates me more than finding a piece of paper abandoned on the floor (except maybe when I’ve lent out all my pens and have nothing to write with).
Over the years, I’ve found ways to reduce my paper usage in school. It started a few years ago when I threw the problem out to my AP students and asked them to brainstorm solutions. One of the great ideas that came out of the class was making a CD of supplemental articles, powerpoint notes, study guides, and lab documents for each chapter. I’ve done this with my AP class for a few years, and I have to say it takes quite a bit of organization on both ends to make it work.
In my other classes, I’ve found a few simple ways to conserve paper, too. I find that many handouts are unnecessary (which is why they end up on the floor or in the trash/recycle bin, instead of in notebooks).
- In lab, I’ll often project powerpoint slides with directions instead of making a copy for each student. I’ll then attach that powerpoint to my school website, so students can download it as a resource when writing up their report.
- I’ll also use the website by linking to an article that I’d like students to read for homework instead of printing a copy for each student. It’s actually easier to work this way, since I don’t have to spend time standing in line for the copier or clearing paper jams (which in turn wastes more paper).
Sometimes, however, I have to use paper. There are some things that just can’t be done without it (think quizzes and tests), and while I’d love to have a “paperless” classroom, I really don’t believe it’s possible without a computer for each student. Still, when I use paper, I’m always cautious to conserve.
- Making double-sided copies is a great start, since it will cut paper consumption in half.
- If the assignment is short, for example five analysis questions, I’ll often put two or more copies on one page, then cut them up so each student gets a partial piece of paper.
- I’m also conscious of page number in larger assignments. I always hate when there’s one line that heads onto another sheet of paper. I’ll fiddle with the font and formatting to get that last line back onto the previous page, being cautious to keep the font big enough to read and to keep the document from looking squished.
- Finally, I never make extra copies. I’ve found that students become more responsible for their papers when spares aren’t easy to come by. I will, however, link documents to my website so students can download important papers that they’ve lost.
At home, I hardly ever print anything for personal use. Instead, I copy recipes online recipes into a notebook which creates my own little cookbook. I’ll also copy driving directions onto a scrap piece of paper or junk mail.
What do you do to save paper?