The production and use of paper contribute towards significant pollution of our environment, affecting, air, water and land. Even paper recycling can be a source of pollution due to the sludge produced during a recovery process known as deinking. The increasing demands for paper consumption has led to deforestation of ‘old growth forests’, compounding the ecological impact of increased Greenhouse gas production and global warming.
So, what can schools do to ‘Go Green’ and thus lessen the environmental and ecological impact of paper consumption?
Every year thousands of schools in states across America go through the grueling process of compiling and printing school directories for parents which include families‚ names and contact information, teacher and student class rosters as well as other school related information. These print directories consume significant levels of paper and ink products, a tradition that is at odds with the School’s mission to Go Green. Despite the obvious environmental impact of the use of a print directory, a practical and a ‘Go Green’ solution remains to be adopted/implemented by school parents.
Digital online and mobile directories represent a both a practical and a Go Green solution to the drawbacks of a paper directory.¬† Some schools have started to switch to digital or mobile directories from print directories as part of the Go Green effort and money/time saving effort.
So, how many trees can be saved by a school by moving away from a print directory? An estimate of paper consumption per school, average size of 500 students, is approximately 50,000 sheets a year for production 500 copies of print directories. At 500 sheets per ream, an average school consumes 100 reams each year. A ton of paper consists of about 400 reams, therefore on average, 4 schools use up one ton of paper per year strictly for print directories. It takes 16 to 20 trees to manufacture one ton of paper. Thus, an average of 18 trees are cut down to meet the demands of print directory for 4 schools per year. Conversely, an average school can save 4 to 5 trees per year by moving away from a print directory to a digital directory.
There are over 100, 000 public elementary, middle and high schools in the US. If we assume that half of these schools produce and use print directories, then it is conceivable that this practice leads to (12,500 X 18) 225,000 trees being cut down annually. Thus, implementing a Go Green solution for school directories can have a significant environmental and ecological impact.