Using Less Paper

Colleges have historically consumed so much paper it seemed like their basic “food.” Trees, the source of almost all modern paper, are a renewable resource; harvested forests can be replanted. However, petroleum energy is required to power the saws that cut the trees, fuel the trucks that transport the logs to pulping mills and, most likely also with coal, generate the electricity that powers the machines that manufacture the paper. More trucking is used to carry paper to end users, such as this college, and, finally, much of that paper eventually will be thrown into the trash and end up in landfills. Using less paper, therefore, makes an important contribution to conserving energy, mostly derived from burning fossil fuels.

  • Blackburn’s large copy machines are equipped to print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Signs have been posted on all these copiers urging users printing longer documents to select duplex, “two-sided” printing, thus reducing by 50% the number of sheets of paper used.
  • Many Blackburn academic course offering booklets, registration materials, class lists, grade reports and a variety of other records are now distributed to faculty and students electronically, taking advantage of modern computer software. This saves at least 45,000 sheets of paper for the 2010-2011 academic year. The extent to which each faculty member issues course syllabi, reading handouts and quizzes to students electronically offers the potential to save up to an additional 40,000 sheets of paper this year. These totals will, of course, be offset to the extent recipients of these electronic distributions decide to print copies for their personal retention rather than rely on the availability on these document on their computers.
  • The use of campus Email has, increasingly over the past decade, substituted electronic distribution of notices, announcements, and campus news for the former blizzard of paper used for these purposes.
  • Much of the paper Blackburn now purchases is manufactured using previously recycled paper. All the copier paper we purchase contains a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled paper. This is paper that has been previously used by a consumer, collected by recycling, and then pulped and made into new paper. Thus, the equivalent of 30% of all the office paper bought by the College was made without cutting down trees and using petroleum to transport and manufacture more paper. This is also the copy paper sold at the Campus store, thus assuring that all students who purchase their personal printer paper there will be using paper with post-consumer recycled paper. The College also uses toilet tissue throughout campus that is stated by its manufacturers to be made from 100% recycled paper.
  • The Blackburn Catalog is now available to prospective students online, as are descriptions of each and every academic major, admissions application forms, and Work Program information.

Using Less Water

Clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Rising world population, increasing amounts of water used in processing raw materials, manufacturing and agriculture, plus the increasing areas subject to drought, have all put severe strains on water resources. About 37 U. S. states are projected to face water shortages within the next two decades. Conserving water is one aspect of environmental sustainability. Using less water also saves Blackburn money because it reduces the number of gallons of water we buy each year. Thus, conserving water, as with other kinds of conservation, increases the funds available to support the College’s teaching and student services.

  • Low flow shower heads have been installed in all residence hall bathrooms and aerators are used on all campus bathroom sinks. Bathrooms now have modern reduced flow toilets and urinals. Through these changes residence hall showers, sinks and all campus toilets and urinals use significantly less water. Most of these changes have been made within the last 10 years.
  • Dining services have reduced the amount of water used, primarily by discontinuing the use of trays at all meals. Thus the dish washing machine no longer uses gallons of heated soapy water to wash a thousand or more trays each day.
  • Small illustrated posters have been placed in all residence hall bathrooms urging students not to waste water when they wash their hands, brush teeth, or shave.
  • Planted flower and shrub gardens on campus have been composted and gravel covered to reduce the need for summer watering.