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Tackling Excess Paper

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
March 25, 2009

Some of unwanted paper collect by Dining Services during a two-week period.

When the PAT, OS and EE committees held their annual meeting in January, they chose several initiatives to work on during the coming year. One of them taken up by the OS Council was to reduce the amount of excess paper generated on campus.

A few weeks ago, Dining Services begin monitoring the amount of unwanted mail received by staff members. OS Council member Patrice MacNevin, who works in dining, spearheaded the pilot program that had all the three dining halls collecting all unwanted mail (flyers, catalogues, post cards and magazines) received weekly. Health Services and other departments where OS councilors were aware of the month-long study, did the same.

The results will be evaluated at the end of March.

The aim is to reduce or recycle as much mail as possible, particularly hard copies relaying information that can be sent electronically. But, the council makes clear, they aren’t striving to become paper-free.

“We want to make it clear that we are not attempting to eliminate paper communications or have the university go to 100 percent electronic communications,” says Matty Leighton, OS Council chair. “Out of the three councils, we have by far the largest number of constituents who do not have access to a computer while performing their job activities, so electronic communications effectively disenfranchise them.”   

To that end, the council has worked persistently to make sure hard copy information is available to those employees. That aside, there is still plenty of wasted paper around. During the March council meeting, two weeks’ worth of mail was spread out on the board of trustee’s conference room table in Thompson Hall; it covered nearly a fifth of the table.

Ideas to reduce paper use include printing fewer copies per department or possibly having one copy of a notice passed around the office with a list of employee names to ensure everyone sees it.

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