Schools can make a difference

We already know the importance of reducing our dependence on paper. The impact of paper use goes far beyond trees, as it uses exorbitant amounts of water, electricity and oil to produce. In fact, one tonne of paper takes 24 trees and 90,000 litres of water to produce! The paper that isn’t recycled also contributes to landfill and air pollutants and, in Australia, it’s estimated that only 50% of paper is recycled. However, as community leaders, educators are well placed to make a difference. Schools can be environmental leaders who ‘walk the walk’ through reducing paper by using creative, tech-driven solutions to mitigate our environmental woes. Sustainable practices in schools have the potential to be really inspiring stuff! There are benefits for the bottom line of your school budget too. Read on for our tips.

1. Know your paper use

In a perfect world, businesses and schools would eschew the use of paper altogether, but that’s not always realistic. The first step is do an audit of paper use and see what is achievable for your school. Business managers and administrators are a great resource here and will be able to let you know how much paper is going through the office and which of their paper-intensive tasks can be digitised. There is also a handy paper use calculator on our site to help you. Click here to access the calculator.

2. Collaborate school-wide

Staff across the school are more likely to adopt new practices and processes if they have been involved in developing them. Get your team to come up with their own ideas and get excited about how and where change can be implemented.

3. Know thy limits

If a completely paperless school feels completely un-doable, don’t throw in the towel. You don’t need to aim for perfection. Every small step is a step in the right direction and you have to start somewhere. You know what they say; ‘From little things, big things grow”.

4. Embrace technology with a school communication app

A fully-integrated school communication app is a cost-effective way to take steps towards going paperless. School Stream is sending over 1 million notifications a week, resulting in savings of at least 1 million printed pages each week. This represents a win for the environment and a significant saving for the schools who are using the app. As an example, it is estimated a school with 400 students sending 6 school newsletters a term (of four pages each) and 5 notes a week will save $17,052 on printing,118,400 sheets of paper and countless hours in admin each year. A clear case of technology saving the day, the environment, and your school budget.

Click here to read the case study of how a public school has saved $130,000 using School Stream to reduce their paper use.

5. Go paperless in the classroom

This idea feels confronting to many but there are many advantages beyond the environmental in embracing technology for both students and teachers. Submitting assignments, marking, and adding resources to supplement the curriculum are all tasks that can be done in a digital heartbeat. Not only does it cut back on paper, it frees up teacher hours. Everyone wins. The integration of technology is appealing to students and a paperless classroom streamlines many day-to-day tasks, including everyone’s favourite: photocopying. For example, if a teacher finds a great resource in the library, they no longer have to wrestle the photocopier for an hour to make copies (including extra for the students who will inevitably lose theirs). Simply drag the document into the shared class folder and, bingo, everyone instantly has access. The paperless school of the future is here now.

Are there any ideas that have been a success at your school? Leave a comment below.

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