New printing options reduce paper use

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) honored Earth Day on April 22 by introducing more environmentally conscious printing options. Two new printers will be available in Jesup 205. One printer will print on paper that already has print on the reverse side (lw-jesup-scrap). An additional printer will allow for two-sided printing (lw-jesup-duplex).

As students approach the end-of-semester period of paper writing, most are well aware of the effects of the long hours of writing on their sleep habits as well as their sanity, but they may not fully grasp the environmental consequences. Each ton of paper produced from tree pulp consumes 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 4200 kWh of electricity, 390 gallons of oil, emission of 60 pounds of air pollution and uses three cubic yards of landfill space when compared to recycled paper. Additionally, chlorine bleaching of paper is a primary source of dioxins, a potent carcinogen that frequently finds its way into our rivers and forests.

The Williams community uses 14,500,000 sheets of paper annually. These 72.5 tons of paper equate to the destruction of approximately 1250 mature trees. Williams use of virgin, rather than recycled paper, accounts for the use of an additional 500,000 gallons of water, 28,000 gallons of oil and the emission of 4350 pounds of air pollution annually. Williams paper use is substantially greater than that of other similarly sized colleges.

An initial approach to reducing the environmental impact of this paper use is to inquire whether papers can be submitted electronically, avoid excessive printing of rough drafts, and print from the Internet space-efficiently. Scrap paper also provides an environmentally responsible source of notepaper.

The next approach is to print in an environmentally responsible manner. There will soon exist a list of professors who are willing to accept papers printed on scrap paper. Unneeded one-side-printed paper should be deposited in receptacles throughout Jesup so that the reverse side can be used for printing. Paper with print on both sides should be recycled.

The new printing options provide a first step towards reducing the environmental impact of paper use at Williams. Printing on scrap paper and using both sides of every sheet will provide support for future environmental initiatives such as using recycled, non-chlorinated, or non-tree papers.

Williams College can assume greater responsibility for its environmental impacts by joining the growing body of colleges using ecologically responsible papers.

The magnitude of the ecological impact of paper use is clear when considering that North Americans are currently consuming close to 200 billion pounds of paper each year. The office paper discarded each year could be used to build a 12-foot-high wall of paper spanning the distance from New York to California.

Statistics compiled from the Earth Works Group’s The Recycler’s Handbook, ReThink Paper and the Chlorine Free Paper Page. Special thanks to Dinny Taylor and Paul Smernoff of OIT for making eco-friendlier printing possible.