Here’s an interesting fact. Last year my university used an estimated 2 million sheets of paper on which to print out electronic files or photocopy materials. Two million. That’s our contribution to what I believe is an annual consumption of paper across the world amounting to around 522 million tons. It is beyond me to try to work out what that means in terms of the world’s use or abuse of scarce natural resources, destruction of forests and pollution of the environment.
But it does make me wonder why we – and I mean all of us – still print so much stuff. I still find myself going to meetings at which everyone is reading print-outs of documents. Students are still being required to submit work in hard copy. All over our universities reports that nobody will read in any format are being presented on glossy paper.
I’m no better than anyone else. I still have and use a printer. But I have started to put most of my papers on my iPad and taken that to the meetings. And I’ll try to find other ways of avoiding this particular environmental craziness, including ways of minimising paper consumption in the university as a whole. Something for all of us to consider?