The Importance of Paper Conservation


Becky Chen, Staff Writer

Reducing paper use is essential due to its negative effects on our environment. Paper fills up our landfills, emits methane when it rots, and requires a lot of water through its production. As a high school with over 3,000 students, AHS’ use of paper is highly extensive.

One way we can help our environment is through recycling paper. Recycling paper has innumerous benefits to the planet. According to ThoughtCo, recycling just one ton of paper can save “17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy — enough to power the average U.S. home for six months — and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent.” Additionally, recycling paper helps climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Thankfully, AHS’ waste company does recycle paper. Ms. Dillman, the principal of AHS, stated that although the “average staff member” wouldn’t know it, the company that collects our school’s waste already manually sorts them from recyclables and non-recyclables. The false notion that AHS doesn’t recycle paper because we don’t have a bin for it is entirely incorrect.

But even though our school does recycle the paper thrown away in its trash cans, it’s still important to decrease paper usage. We can’t just expect to recycle all of our waste and expect them to just go away. Recycling can only diminish the effects on the environment, while conservation is always the best way to go. “We are all on the same page that we are just using too much paper,” Ms. Dillman answered when asked about how the administration feels about our school’s growing paper usage. “It’s just too much.”
Some solutions would be to encourage teachers to move more of their classwork online. Although Google Classroom already exists, there are still many teachers on campus who consistently pass out packets and handouts that consume so many sheets of paper throughout the school year. Teachers should be more knowledgeable about the technology they are using in order to have this happen, or at least give students the option to turn in work digitally.

Digital work comes with its own problems at hand. Some teachers are afraid of how cheating and plagiarism is a lot more easy to execute online. They also believe that working on paper is a lot better for a student’s education. However, those have all of their own solutions. Cheating and plagiarism can be combated with the numerous plagiarism tools online such as TurnItin, which although isn’t free, is a lot cheaper than the costs of copy machines, ink, etc.

Digital tools will be more present in classrooms as generations pass and modern solutions will be required. Furthermore, conserving paper would also make the teachers’ lives a lot easier. Ms. Dillman, a former History teacher, stated, “I cannot tell you how much time I’ve spent, as a teacher, in front of a copy machine.”

Hopefully in the future, more teachers and students will be aware of the importance of the conversation of paper. After all, this is our Earth, and we are all responsible for taking care of it.