Let’s Teach Paperless project cuts faculty paper usage by 19 percent

Northeast State’s faculty went green instead of white this fall, cutting paper usage by 19 percent.

The volunteer effort was in response to a challenge by the College’s Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Iota Chi chapter, which sought to reduce paper usage by asking faculty members to find alternative ways to communicate class information.

According to Jane Honeycutt, PTK faculty advisor, faculty members slashed usage from Fall 2012 to Fall 2013 by 197,533 copies, saving the College $5,531.00. The Humanities Division led the way, reducing its paper usage by 41 percent or 36,336 copies. Other noteworthy savers included the Behavioral and Social Sciences Division, which lowered usage by 35 percent (39,569 copies); and the Health-Related Professions Division, which cut usage 61 percent (2,875 copies).

“Overall, I think people became more aware of when it’s necessary to use paper and when it isn’t,” Honeycutt said. “Just little things, such as making double-sided copies and putting information on D2L (the College’s online learning management system), made a difference.”

Honeycutt said the Let’s Teach Paperless project came about from a discussion between PTK members and Northeast State President Janice Gilliam. Gilliam was looking to find funds for faculty salary increases as well as help the College with sustainability efforts. Honeycutt said the decision was made to challenge faculty paper usage in positive, fun ways, and apply the savings to salaries.

The PTK chapter launched the initiative during the College’s Fall 2013 Convocation with a humorous skit, illustrating positive outcomes, while raising awareness about campus paper consumption. The chapter also asked for written commitments from faculty and staff, and urged academic deans to emphasize the project. Five reserved parking spaces were offered as a reward to the division with the largest paper reduction.

Honeycutt said PTK was aided by the College’s Chief Financial Analyst Ranee Baker who provided baseline comparison numbers and Computer User Support Services Director Patsy Bowers who created a registration form and a paper usage log.

At the start, Honeycutt said students were concerned because low numbers of faculty formally signed up to participate; however, they soon realized handouts were on the decline. She said students also learned President Gilliam’s commitment to the cause unified the effort.

Honeycutt said PTK will continue to tweak the project and push for a 25 percent reduction through the Spring 2014 semester. She said PTK may extend project into next year and include students in the challenge.

“I thought it was a really good example of everybody cooperating to make it happen and work toward a goal that’s good for the College and the environment,” Honeycutt said. “Each of us did a little bit and we ended up with good results.”

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