Reducing Paper Use at Tufts

A Student Campaign

In Spring 2010, students from the Ex-college class Environmental Action: Shifting from Saying to Doing decided to tackle the excessive use of paper by tufts students, faculty and staff. This is their story.

Campaign mission: To reduce paper use at Tufts.
Campaign objectives:

  1. To set printers in major printing centers to default double sided.
  2. To encourage professors to accept and grade assignments electronically or to request double-sided printing.

Appeal to students      Appeal to faculty  ◊   Facebook Event  ◊  Sign the Student Petition

UPDATE: In the spring of 2010 The Environmental Action class received word that in the fall, all printers in the Tisch Library and Eaton Computer Center would print default double sided. This semester, the change has prompted most students to print double sided, and professors have been readily accepting double-sided assignments. The push for electronic grading continues, and may coincide with the installation of a new electronic academic site as students and professors will vote on a new “Blackboard” type website within the next few years.

Explanation for Students

Tufts Paper Use Reduction Campaign
Brian McGonagle, A11 and Museum School
April 22, 2010

This semester students in the Experimental College class “Environmental Action: Shifting from Saying to Doing” are working to reduce paper use on campus. By encouraging double-sided printing as well as online submission of assignments and other course work, the amount of paper used at Tufts can be greatly reduced. While the main purpose of this campaign is obviously to cut down on paper waste and reduce its impact on the environment, it is also meant to encourage sustainability and environmentally conscious programs at Tufts. Sustainability, as well as reduced paper waste on campus, is undoubtedly incentive enough for most people to jump on-board; reduced paper waste will also have numerous positive side effects for students.

Benefits for students
Online assignment submissions will be much more convenient for students, as they will no longer have to print copies to give to professors and even if online submission is not accepted by a professor, double-sided printing will be just as convenient as single-sided printing, as the campaign is attempting to make double-sided printing the default setting for printers in all major printing areas on campus, such as Tisch Library and Eaton Hall’s computer lab. Electronic submissions will also provide a simple and easy way of keeping track of assignments online as well as providing an easier system for grading. Online submissions will also save students money, as they will no longer have to pay for every piece of paper printed. Money, time and convenience are not the only incentives for reducing the university’s paper waste as online submissions and double-sided printing will also engender a sense of environmental stewardship, which will undoubtedly be appreciated in the Tufts community among students and faculty alike.

Actions at other schools A similar campaign took place at Boston University last summer in which employees who get direct deposit paychecks stopped getting paper pay stubs, instead posting the pay stubs exclusively online. Direct deposit paying will save Boston University about $5000 annually in paper alone, not to mention the $50,000 worth of money saved if all employees got direct deposits. Besides the monetary savings Boston University comptroller Steve Singer says that the university would save “3,000 pounds of paper, 30,000 pounds of wastewater, and 1,000 gallons of gas,” which “equates to 9,000 pounds of greenhouse gas, comparable to 32,000 miles of driving” annually if all employees utilized direct deposit paychecks.

Where do we start?
The first place this campaign needs to start is obviously with the students. In order for this initiative to take place we need to start with the support of the largest population of the school, the students, and work our way up to staff and faculty. What you can do to help is encourage your professors to post assignments online as well as accept online submission of assignments and papers. If the professor will not accept online submission then you can encourage him/her to accept double-sided printed papers or to have his/her T.A. print handouts double-sided. If enough professors are encouraged by their students to reduce their own as well as their student’s paper waste we can hopefully get a large enough following to take the campaign to the faculty, who ultimately will make paper reduction a priority on campus.

What you can do to help

  • Talk to your teachers and ask them if they would mind students turning in papers online or printing double-sided
  • Talk to your peers and ask them to do the same
  • Set an example by only printing double sided/not printing at all
  • Basically talk to anyone who will listen

Letter to Faculty

Good Afternoon,

I am a student in the Experimental College course Environmental Action: Shifting From Saying to Doing.  This semester our campaign is to reduce paper use at Tufts, primarily by encouraging double sided printing.  Although we are advocating for default duplex printing at the library and Eaton, 79% of surveyed students indicated they do not print duplex because they believe professors prefer or require assignments to be printed single-sided.  Our faculty survey showed that most professors who have not encouraged their students to print double-sided have not simply because it never occurred to them.  As Tufts students are clearly dedicated to satisfying professor requests, we hope that you will use this opportunity to tell your students that saving paper is important to you. I am writing to request that you encourage your students to print double-sided and help us work to reduce paper use on campus.

You can also play your role to reduce paper use at Tufts by:

  • Signing our pledge
  • Encouraging other faculty to do the same
  • Talking about paper use at your next staff meeting

Thank you for your support.

  • View a picture tutorial describing how to grade electronically.
  • Read a feature article about our campaign in the Tufts Observer here.
  • Check out our campaign poster below. Download it.

Less is More smaller poster