Tips For Teachers and Students to Reduce Paper Use

Nothing marks the end of summer more than shopping for school supplies.  Students stock up on paper supplies including loose leaf paper, notebooks, computer paper, construction paper and folders. Certainly some of this paper is necessary but there are also ways that we can limit the amount of paper we use. We found the following suggestions from for the conservation-minded teacher and student:

  • Teachers, load lesson plans and books onto your computer and read aloud to your students rather than print out reams of instructional materials each week;
  • At levels where every student is likely to have access to a computer, instructors can also use recordable CDs rather than stacks of printed material for their classwork;
  • See if it’s possible to email school assignments rather than print them and turn them in by hand;
  • Teachers, use the blackboard more and handouts less;
  • Give recycling bins a prominent place in classrooms, libraries, study areas and dorm rooms;
  • For both students and teachers, don’t use a full 8 1/2-by-11 sheet of paper for brief communiques where a sticky note or note sheet will do;
  • Take time in class to talk about the environmental impact of paper and ways to conserve. Sometimes, just raising awareness can pave the way for improved conservation;
  • Then there are the usual steps anyone can take to reduce one’s “paper footprint”: choose recycled paper products, print on both sides of paper when you have to print, maximize margins and formatting to get the most out of each printed page and - of course - recycle used paper when you’re done with it.

Small changes can make a big difference.  For example a 2001 Penn State study found that “by making the most of paper by reducing margins, font sizes and spacing, the school could reduce its annual paper consumption by 67 percent.”   Not only does this save paper, it saves money.


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