Going green: UBC students take initiative to minimize paper usage in school community

Dec 19 2017, 8:57 am

A second-year UBC student, Suyin Lim, has collaborated with four other students, Da Vin Kim, Michael Robinson, John Mangalathil and Juan Suarez, to start a green initiative that entails “lowering the volumes of paper consumption through an economical approach.”

The five UBC students plan to minimize paper usage in their school community in an economically efficient manner.

They undertook this project with high hopes of improving UBC Vancouver’s printing services – by finding a cost-effective approach for printing. This would benefit both UBC and anyone who utilizes the printing services. The group believes that this should help achieve Vancouver’s sustainable goals, while helping people save money.

The group took inspiration from the importance of ‘critical thinking’ that Robert Gateman preaches rather than treating a class project like an onus. But though they’ve started small by targeting their school community, they wouldn’t mind suggesting the benefits to other universities and public institutions to follow suit.

Here is a statement from the five UBC students:

Pollution. Who cares, right? While the thought of pollution isn’t predominantly in people’s minds, the topic of pollution costs should arise.

Under the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act (2008), public institutions are to purchase Carbon Offsets for their CO2 emissions to become “carbon neutral.” This is an unavoidable cost.

Regarding paper, we all know universities will have an ample amount of individuals using their printing services. This is where concerns form. At UBC, the price to print is 7¢/page; however, a “page” is defined as a single side of a sheet. Doing the quick calculations, you will see that the cost of printing double sided on one sheet is equivalent to that of printing single sided on two sheets. Even though the costs of paper are practically abysmal in the price to print, shouldn’t we start questioning what exactly are the costs in the fees that we pay? Shouldn’t we start to see that public institutions do have to run like a business; thus, trickling some of their costs into what we fund them with?

Bottom line: We are helping UBC fund the costs they must pay the government to use paper and emit CO2. We enjoy our technological advances, but there are times that people would much rather prefer a hard copy document they can mark up and note-take all over. With this preference, to enjoy the perks of a hard copy document means that a cost is to be surrendered. The current print price definition ought to consider an alteration. If Vancouver wants to cut back costs to lower GHG Emissions, then UBC should cut back on their paper supply; thus, individuals should be able to cut back on their paper consumption as well.

This initiative drives what UBC Sustainability has reiterated: double-side print. However, we are taking a step further by pushing the printing services to consider incentivizing the price to double side print. Single-sided printing wouldn’t be obliterated but priced higher. With this, we can expect a decrease in paper usage, leading to a decrease of GHG emissions, which also means that UBC will not fork up as much money investing in these carbon offsets. The savings are beneficial to all parties involved.

We’re proposing that individuals consider the degrees of their participation in pollution, and if they so feel the need to participate: to give up costs that are in accordance to the benefits they receive.

Image: UBC Public Affairs