Projects - Paper Use

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Information Technology Services

What is ITS doing toward making Macalester a greener campus?  More than you might think - and they have been doing it for years.  Check out the ITS sustainability web site for information on how you can reduce your paper and energy usage (did you know that you can read a document online and take notes electronically as well?), plus links to statistics on overall college resource consumption.

DeWitt Wallace Library

At a library, one of the greatest challenges to sustainability is the use (or misuse) of paper.  The DeWitt Wallace Library faces the normal paper costs associated with a library such as those incurred from books and periodicals and, because printing is free at Macalester, we also have a relatively high amount of printed paper waste.  It is with these facts in mind that the library has worked to increase its sustainability in a variety of ways.

One of the key ways in which the library attempts to be more sustainable is through recycling.  Recycle bins are available on all floors, and we work to ensure that unwanted paper makes it into them.  Library employees reuse some of the collected scratch paper when printing is required for routine internal library tasks. Notifications to students for overdue items and hold pick-ups are no longer paper, but are sent electronically. Student workers are evaluated using online paperless forms. Junk paper is used for a number of internal documents and incoming CLIC holds. Even the old card catalogue cards are being reused as scratch paper!

Working with ITS and MacCARES, the library also collects its discarded one-sided paper to be used in the “Onesies Notebook” project. The paper is rebound and distributed as notebooks to students to further facilitate recycling of paper.

The library has also begun a direct mail waste initiative.  Library staff receive a lot of bulk mailings from publishers and others that often go directly to the recycling bin.  We are embarking on a project to keep this mail from coming in the first place.  Staff place unwanted mailings in a designated bin and, prior to recycling, student workers investigate and follow the necessary steps to remove names from mailing lists.

We promote and maintain the Digital Commons electronic publishing archive for the Macalester College community and are transitioning many of our reference and periodical collections from printed copies to electronic versions. The library also posts documents on moodle and e-reserves and offers information sessions to teach students how to take notes in pdfs.

On February 25, 2009, the library disabled all public and staff printers for 8.5 hours.  Library staff and Macalester’s Sustainability Office co-sponsored the event, dubbed “Waste Less Wednesday,” to call attention to the amount of printing that is done just in the library.  The event was one of several campus activities supporting the Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge and was a featured campus initiative for Recyclomania 2009.  During the day, library and ITS staff provided guidelines for interested users on how to use electronic options for classroom and personal study needs in lieu of printing.  Library Director Terri Fishel and campus Sustainability Manager Suzanne Savanick Hansen also hosted community members in a lunchtime discussion of ways to encourage sustainable printing practices across campus.

Whenever possible, books weeded from library collections are donated to Better World Books, an organization promoting literacy initiatives worldwide.  Books unable to be accepted by BWB are sent to a recycling facility.