Upon Closer Inspection On Paper Consumption


Aadesh Khadka

The school feeds off of paper, most recycle, while others just dump it in trash. Does it harm the environment? Yes, because the more we print paper, the more deforestation is happening. Deforestation causes the increase in global emission of carbon, which essentially causes unconventional climate change. There has been a slight increase in paper consumption, as schools have moderately come back into physical settings. 

As we all know, the global pandemic caused all schools to close, and everything diverted into virtual settings. Regardless of any drawback that students and teachers faced with the virtual school setting, there was a positive aspect that people didn’t consider. The paper consumption decreased, as a lot of the assignments were online, for which the apps like google docs, slides, and Peardeck made it feasible to work online without having to print anything. The records from the Centreville Highschool database clearly show that there was an exponential increase in paper consumption as the school was back to in-person. For example, when Centreville Highschool was opened virtually in August 2020, the number of copies that were printed from a big second floor copier was  3,362,155. Whereas when the school was open in-person during August 2021, the number of copies was 3,654,833, giving  a subsequent increase of 243,316. So as we have come back into the physical classroom, we have again lost the control of utilizing paper. 

Even looking at the practice of paper consumption through the lens of a larger overview, the schools in the U.S. “are consuming as much as 32 billion sheets of paper per year.” And based on paper costing “5 cents per sheet $100 per day, this can cost school roughly $16,000 per year.” While this is just an approximation, the number is still too big. Not only does paper consumption hamper the environment, but also the economy. Also, one of the reasons that paper consumption did not decrease was because “the educational resources sent by teachers need to be printed, thereby requiring access to printers.” This is scary, considering just school, while excluding the other offices, printer facility, and individual printers. 

According to the sustainability challenges in paper consumption, “Worldwide, deforestation is estimated to be responsible for about 12% of greenhouse gas emissions. ” The more we use paper, the more we are prone to cut the trees, and the more we cut the trees, the more it affects the environment negatively. The practicality of climate change has primarily to do with deforestation, which in many cases is caused by the rapid settlement and urbanization. However, what we undermine is the idea of paper consumption. Centreville High school is only one of the many high schools, for which if we consider the amount of paper that other high schools use, this reflects that paper consumption is solely not good. 

So in order to utilize the paper and reduce the excessive paper consumption, the schools should be more inclined to online or digital media. And also the recycling team or after school clubs should be more formulating and conscious, in a sense that they are more careful with protesting about the importance of recycling and advertising the importance of recycling.