U of T saving trees?30 September 2010
The U of T, in its campus news email, informed me today that a pilot project had saved paper. I am glad to hear that they are saving paper, though not so much under the guise of "sustainability" because it does not sound sustainable to me.
The project involved setting the default of library printers as double-sided printing, which would be nice to have in my office sometimes. Of course, the results are nice to see but essentially meaningless based on the provided information. It is likely that the 30% drop in paper usage can be attributed to making double-sided the default, but they do not tell if usage went up or down in other libraries over the same time. If it went down the results would be less dramatic; if it went up the results are better. It is nice to see that a group has started on the first of the three Rs, as so many begin with the last and then pat their own back.
The part that bothers me is that they state that expanding the project to all libraries:
has the potential to save over 500,000 sheets of paper each year at the central libraries, with possible savings of an additional 100,000 sheets at the three federated college libraries. This would result, each year, in saving over 75 trees, avoiding 8 tonnes of greenhouse gases, and preventing the discharge of 250,000 litres of wastewater from pulp and paper mills (based on the Environmental Defense Fund Paper Calculator).
To really reduce paper use, it would make more sense to also set an "environmental break-even" price. It may already be in the price because 75 trees is not really many trees to replace. This type of break-even price spent on replacing lost trees, offsetting the greenhouse gases, and ensuring that the water is treated adequately could actually help the environment.
In other news, the university started having reusable take-out containers last week. So far I'm the only person I've talked to who read that. This is great. Now if more people knew about them, it would be better.