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CSC eliminates the use of posters

| Thursday, September 6, 2018

Across campus — on bulletin boards in dining halls, the library and O’Shaughnessy Hall — one poster read: “The Last Poster (from the Center for Social Concerns)”.

James Shortall, director of communications and advancement for the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) said the organization will no longer be distributing its information for programs and applications by means of posters or any other paper-related source.

Shortall said this decision was based on the papal encyclical “Laudato Si,” which was published by Pope Francis on May 24, 2015. The encyclical says that the poor are disproportionately affected by climate change, especially in developing countries whose natural resources often drive the economies of more developed countries.

Shortall said after reading the encyclical, members of the CSC began to consider how its material consumption impacted the environment.

“Because there’s so much in that document about how we have gotten into the predicament we’re in with regard to the environment and who it affects, we started talking about what we do here at the [CSC] that might not be great for the environment and how we could start to steward our resources better and undergo what that document calls an ‘ecological conversion’ and care for our common home together,” Shortall said.

He said for the past two years the organization has looked closely at reducing paper usage in particular.

“We produce 50 to 60,000 pages of paper every year in posters and booklets, and given that most folks learn about us through digital means these days, we felt that didn’t make sense,” Shortall said.

He said when considering the effects of going paperless, the CSC conducted three surveys, polling students on how they found out about the courses, programs, applications and events they offer. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they found out about programming through digital means, he said. They decided to make the switch to not using paper last year and have since been building up their digital media platforms to reach a wider audience, he added.

“We have an electronic newsletter that we send out every week to more than 3,000 people,” he said. “We have digital displays in the building that we just installed this summer, and those will show the 1,500 visitors to the building every week what we’re doing, and they also will let us exchange our images with other buildings that have digital displays. We have an enhanced website and four social media platforms, a podcast and extensive video capability.”

Shortall said the environmental benefits of this switch extend beyond saving paper. Considering there are some materials in printers that cause harm to the environment, there is no way of guaranteeing that all the posters and pamphlets the CSC produces are recycled. The process of recycling can also produce additional pollutants.

He added that he hopes the change will set an example for other organizations looking to be more environmentally conscientious.

“The impact we’d like to have has more to do with being seen as and being a leader on campus with regard for environmental issues. Given our mission we think it’s appropriate that we be early adopters of this kind of thing,” Shortall said. “We’d love to see other units go paperless, too.”

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