Friday, May 22, 2009

No Brainers

There are many things I do now that a few years ago I wouldn't have even thought about. And there are some things I started doing, and I wondered why on earth it took me so long to figure that out. These are really easy things to do, that take little effort, but really add up.

In the bathrooms of our schools, we put down recycling boxes to collect paper towels instead of collecting slightly moist paper towels in the trash bins. This diverts about two full garbage bags each day from the landfill and takes minimal effort from anyone.

I was flipping through a binder recently and came across an old assignment. There was one question at the top of a blank page. That's it. I can't believe I copied and handed that out to students instead of writing the question on the board. But at the time, even though I composted and turned off lights, I wasn't paying attention to how much paper I use.

Change the margins. It's so easy. Just format your page to widen the top, bottom, and sides, then save the formatting. Reducing margins to .75" on all side reduces paper use by almost 5%.

Re-Use-It Paper, aka GOOS (good-on-one-side) paper. My students wouldn't use the name "Goos" because it sounds silly. But regardless of the name, it's so easy to plop in a bunch of used paper in the copier or printer and use the blank side.

This is a bit more work than the others, but at the beginning of the year, I buy 10 reams of hemp paper. I ask my students if they'd donate to a paper fund in order to have a tree-free classroom. I usually get about half the cost from them. The rest comes out of my pocket. And it forces me to really use the paper carefully - no mistakes when I'm copying, no extra copies made - because I've got a limited amount of paper to work with. I think twice before I copy anything now.

And other bright ideas out there?

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