Paper vs. Technology: The Balancing Act
December 11, 2015
Filed under Opinion
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Twenty- four thousand can stand for many different things, such as the amount of coffee shops in the United States or the population in Williamsburg, Virginia doubled. However in this case, it stands for the average amount of copies made daily by teachers and students here at Jamestown High School.
This number is equivalent to each staff member producing roughly 195 copies, with each student receiving approximately 18 pieces of paper each day. All of the school’s paper waste contributes to the United States growing use of 25 percent of the world’s entire paper production, according to the American Forest and Paper foundation.
Despite the amount of paper used, the success of a class partly relies on the use of paper copies. English teacher Melissa Mustard explained, “I feel like I copy and print a lot of paper because my classes are not based on textbooks like other classes are.” Like many courses, English classes do not use a specific textbook, causing a natural increase in copies.
With all the paper that is used each day at school, students and teachers should all be making recycling a priority. Teacher assistant and senior Anna Rayno said, “I think a lot of paper is wasted not only with the work that the teachers give, but also when you look in the recycling bins in the copy room. They are filled with wasted papers that are the wrong copy format.” According to students, they typically receive about two pieces of paper each day, which means over half of this large number is being wasted each day.
As a school, we collectively waste so much paper for many reasons, such as the copiers breaking frequently, lack of training on fixing paper jams, and the school being unaware of the staggering paper waste.
There are many ways in which schools world–wide attempt to preserve paper with the use of technology. Freshman Thomas Hallett said, “I think the school could save the amount of paper they use by doing more activities on the computer, iPad, iPod, and the laptops. Not only is it more fun and enjoyable, because it is not the normal paper and pencil, it is also beneficial to the environment, which makes it worth it.” According to jamescitycountyva.org, James City County spent over seven million dollars on technology in the 2014-2015 school year.
If WJCC spent 5.35 percent of total expenditures on technology alone for the schools, why is the daily quota of paper so high? Technology was created to make our lives more efficient by providing quick and reliable resources, all in the touch of a button; however, technology comes with its’ disadvantages of time consuming training, breaking easily, and the inaccessibility of technology to all students.
In addition to finding reliable ways to utilize technology in the classroom, we can also decrease the amount of paper used by always printing double-sided papers, re-using single-sided papers, setting paper reduction goals, and by educating the teachers and their assistants on the paper waste throughout the school. Junior Genevieve Meadows said, “I, along with my family all try to conserve paper. While at home and even at school, we all recycle paper and try to not print anything if we do not have to, but when we do, we usually print double-sided as much as possible.”
Although Jamestown alone is using a massive quantity of paper, there are many ways in which the school continues to help the environment. Junior Sarah Katherine explained, “I think Jamestown does a lot when it comes to helping the environment. I know there are several different recycling containers in the English hallway for all the different types of recycling. Also, my teachers are always urging students to place their paper in the recycling bin instead of the trash can.”
Government teacher Richard Ambler sponsors the Ecology Club, which consists of students going around classrooms collecting recycling containers and separating into various recycling bins outside of room 215. Ambler explained, “If you do things because you believe they make a difference, then you have internal efficacy. Meaning, you believe that what you are doing is for a reason, and in this case, recycling.” Unfortunately, what most students and teachers do not realize is the effort put into separating the recycling in each classroom is pointless unless it is individually taken to the recycling bins. Dedicating a student at the end of the day to recycle could continue helping the world-wide issue of wasting paper.
The average ratio of paper recycled to paper wasted was 10:60 million tons in 1962, according to wrongplanet.net. Over the course of 50 years, the amount of paper recycled has risen significantly, but the amount of paper wasted continues to skyrocket each day. With the right amount of effort and awareness, we can contribute to the rise in recycling and think twice before making copies.