A few extra trees

This is the sort of thing you want to applaud, even as you fear it’s going to go straight to the landfill:

In my school board, they’ve implemented a 75/5 paper reduction policy starting a year ago: we’re to decrease paper use by 75% within the next five (now four) years. Stats were run, and I tried to convince the keeper of the numbers to accidentally leak them — or, better, openly post them and warn that updated numbers will be posted quarterly. He already suggested that we limit printing to 600 pages/year, and there was an uproar. With stats in hand, he’s clarified that most people are doing that already, but a few — about 10 in 80 teachers — are way, way above those numbers. Unfortunately he’s not quite comfortable posting those names yet, but I think it’s the only thing that will work.

About ten years ago, we took what we thought were going to be steps toward the paperless office, and despite the use of “we” I mean to exclude myself, simply because I said up front that it was never going to happen. During that decade, paper usage declined hardly a whit, and when we finally got around to cleaning up the archives — well, you know those standard two-wheeled carts that seemingly every municipality in the nation uses for trash pickup? We sent forty-six of the damned things, crammed to within an inch or two of the top, to Shredders R Us.

Then again, naming names wouldn’t make any difference in that particular environment: everyone contributes to the problem, and short of sacking the entire staff and setting up again in Tierra del Fuego, this isn’t going to change anytime in my lifetime. Everyone else’s mileage, of course, may vary.


  1. fillyjonk »

    7 November 2015 · 6:15 pm

    And blanket rules like that just cause problems, I’ve found: The English prof who never does handouts can smugly say they only use 10 sheets of paper a year, whereas the person who does labs, doesn’t use a lab manual, and has to do weekly lab handouts, looks like a profligate waster to the bean-counters.

    And yes, you CAN put all that business online, but that just pushes the burden of printing on to the students, and of course then some of them will forget/run out of printer budget/find that the computer-lab printer is broken or out of paper or toner…..and it’s just dozens more headaches for the person running the lab. (And I don’t recommend using a tablet computer in lab; too many bad chemicals to spill on it even if the wi-fi weren’t iffy in that room.)

  2. jsallison »

    7 November 2015 · 9:19 pm

    The paperless office is just like practical fusion power. Been just down the road for the last 40 years.

  3. McGehee »

    8 November 2015 · 8:31 am

    The worst thing about technological change is the number of people who refuse to change with the times. The second worst thing about technological change is the number of people who think technological change will change everything right now.

  4. Lynn »

    8 November 2015 · 4:44 pm

    Back in the early 90’s my employer at the time declared that we were going completely paperless in one year. And then almost immediately ordered 100 laser printers.

  5. CGHill »

    8 November 2015 · 4:48 pm

    Yeah, there’s a means to an end.

  6. fillyjonk »

    8 November 2015 · 6:31 pm

    Well, see they weren’t printing ON PAPER, they were printing on lasers. Or something.

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