Mobile School Directories and the ‘Go Green’ Movement in US Schools

Every year thousands of schools in states across the US continue to go through the grueling process of compiling and printing school directories for parents.   These directories include names and contact information of families, students and teachers and represent a valuable school resource for parents.   However, the print directories consume significant levels of paper and ink products, a ‘tradition’ that is at odds with the School’s mission to ‘Go Green’.

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 de-inking (remove ink from the paper being recycled).  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.

The digital directories represent an ideal ‘Go Green’ solution to the drawbacks of a paper directory. In addition, the practical appeal of converting from print to digital is the tremendous savings in labor, time and money for the PTAs that co-ordinate the directory effort. Some schools have started to switch to digital or mobile directories from print directories as part of the Go Green and money/time saving effort.

PTA volunteers Denise Baer and Joanne Heller leading the switch from paper to mobile directory for their school district in CT three years ago. Ms. Baer wrote about this experience in adopting mobile directory for her school district, published in the National PTA blog.

Denise Baer and JoAnne Heller, recipients of the Green Schools award

Go Green Movement and Westport PTA

“The transition from a paper to an electronic directory move was a big step for our parent PTA members, but …. they (parents) can’t imagine going back!

In recognition of their efforts, both Denise Baer and Joanne Heller were presented with the “Outstanding Green Community Hero” award from Project Green Schools, MobileArq is very proud to have these PTA leaders who are deeply committed to their school, community and the environment.  Both Denise Baer and Joanne Heller and  other outstanding ‘Green Community Heroes’ from across the US were honored by the Green Schools,, in the Boston, MA statehouse in June 2016.

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.

Let’s all ‘Go Green’ and take the responsibility of sustainable stewardship of the environment.