Office Paper

Dr. John Vann, Department of Marketing
Green Initiatives Coordinator
October 2001

Last fiscal year, Ball State University Central Stores purchased 86,689 reams of copier/printer paper for $195,502.  This represented a 52% increase in three years.  If those reams were stacked one on top of the other, the stack would be 2.7 miles high.  End-to-end, the individual sheets would stretch from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and back, with enough left over to reach to New York City.  Nineteen percent of the reams purchased by Ball State contained some recycled content. Taking the recycled content into consideration, rough calculations (assuming a mix of softwood and hardwood trees 40ft tall and 6-8 inches in diameter) show that it would take 24 trees to make a ton of copier paper, or 400 reams. So, Ball State's paper appetite consumed 4,900 trees. Using a life-cycle perspective, this resulted in 456,205 pounds of solid waste and 1,158,659 pounds of CO2 equivalents of greenhouse gases.  Obviously, the opportunities for preserving resources and protecting the environment through conserving paper at Ball State are immense.

What can we do?  We have opportunities in communicating, printing, copying, and in making student assignments. 

  • 1. Send electronic messages whenever possible, and don't print them out.
  • 2. Print on both sides of the paper.  Either use a duplex printer, or on the print window, choose "print odd pages only," turn the stack over and place it back in the hopper.  Then print again, choosing "print even pages only."  This may take a little practice to get the pages in order and with the right orientation, but not much.
  • 3. If you receive a printed communication that has printing on only one side, save the paper and use the other side in your printer.  There should be no embarrassment in sending or receiving memos with irrelevant material on the backside of the page.  Simply draw a line through it.
  • 4. Whenever possible, print exams on both sides.  You may want to also photo-reduce the pages so that you can get two pages on both sides, or 4 pages per sheet!  An alternative to photo reducing the pages is to use your printer driver to print multiple pages on one side.  Different printers have different protocols.  You may be able to select this option on the first print window.  For Epson, you go to "Properties" in the print window and then "Layout," then "Print layout."  Here you select "2 pages" and go to "Page order."  Here you may experiment to see if you want a 1-2 ordering or a 2-1 ordering.  It may take a little patience to work out the details, but the potential savings are great. Whenever you print two pages per sheet, you may want to print at a somewhat larger font size to enhance readability.
  • 5. When distributing copies where the text takes up less than one half of a sheet, copy and paste the text to get as many copies as possible per sheet and then cut them apart after printing or copying.
  • 6. Use duplex copiers or copy on one side, reload the paper and copy on the other side.
  • 7. Require that students turn in papers electronically or printed on both sides.  When printing at home, they may use the methods described above.  They may also use the duplex printer in WB216.  This printer may be selected from the print screen. 
  • 8. Recycle!
  • 9. Close the loop by requesting recycled paper when ordering from Central Stores or elsewhere.