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Have a green semester

The GreenMan | Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To my bundled-up, shivering, teeth-chattering Domers,

With the flu hitting full force, tissues have become a hot commodity – a way to make friends with that someone who caught your attention on the first day of class that will make a 9:30 a.m. Principles of Macro more bearable . . . Anyway, thinking about tissues got me thinking about one of my other favorite topics: Paper! And what better time to preach about paper consumption than at the beginning of the semester?
Here are a few surprising facts for you: In the U.S., we use over 70 million tons of paper and paperboard each year. That’s about 500 pounds of paper per year for each of us. 500 pounds, friends. While this number has been declining, the U.S. still uses about five times the world’s average.  Shucks.

Luckily, I had the forethought that you all would be upset about this, so below I’ve included some handy tips and advice. First, do you really need that many paper towels? No. One is really enough. Maybe if you have super big hands, go for another, but I think you can get away with one.  Also, NOT EVERY FINGER NEEDS A SEPARATE NAPKIN. Sorry, but I’ve watched too many of you go napkin crazy. Second, avoid printing out lengthy readings and course packets.  Annotating in PDF is pretty handy and it gives you a reason to have your computer open in class. Plus, if you doze off accidentally and get called on unexpectedly, the “find” feature is really convenient. Third, Grab ‘n Go bag usage. If you don’t want to buy a reusable bag, fine, just throw your old bag in your backpack when you’re done and whip it out the next time – whip it good.  Fourth, this sounds parental I realize, but just try to stay organized. Why bother printing out syllabi and confirmation emails if you’re only going to lose them the next day?

There are a dozen other little things I’m sure you can come up with yourselves, but I wanted to get you thinking at least.  

Here’s to a fantastic (and green) semester for each and every one of you!

Email your predicaments to The GreenMan at [email protected] and let him answer you with a sustainable twist. The GreenMan will be here every other week to provide you with insights you never knew you were missing out on until now.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.