New Climate for Action: Paper Usage

About the author: Ashley Sims, a senior at Indiana University, is a fall intern with EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education through the Washington Leadership Program.

Think about all the paper we use for school. We constantly take notes during class, use paper for homework assignments, tests, and print sheets related to school work. There’s no way to get around it. Or is there? We need paper on a daily basis since school has to be our number one priority. So how can we be environmentally conscious while making sure we keep up with our daily obligations to school?

Here is a suggestion. Why not use paper to its fullest potential to minimize waste? The process of making, distributing, and using paper releases greenhouse gas emissions into our environment. At EPA we promote Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Reducing the amount of paper we use, as well as reusing and recycling paper can help address global climate change. Reducing paper usage decreases waste and its associated costs. Reusing paper can stop or delay its entry into the waste stream. Recycling turns paper that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. So why not get involved and help save our environment. Our small efforts to reduce the amount of paper we use can truly make a huge impact on our planet.

Here are some helpful tips to try for school:
-Always print double-sided and write on both sides of paper
-Cut up old blank paper for notes instead of buying new notepads or sticky-notes
-Use old comics from the newspaper to wrap presents or textbooks for school
-Donate old books to a used-book store or secondhand shop
-Recycle old books, magazines and papers
-Buy recycled paper products such as notebooks, computer paper, cards, etc whenever possible

Please tell us how you conserve paper while completing your homework assignments. If you haven’t tried any of the above suggestions, still let us know what you think. I can’t wait to hear your ideas about how we can conserve paper and get good grades too! Your small changes can make a big difference.

For more information about waste please visit

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