As a biology major at Lafayette, most of the classes I have taken require textbooks. I am always surprised by the amount of paper that accumulates by the end of the semester whenever I take classes that don’t require textbooks or have a lot of supplementary printed material in addition to textbooks. I always print out every assigned reading, even if I read them online first, because I like to have them in class with me so I can glance over them and see what is being referenced in lectures and discussions. But at the end of the year, all of this accumulated paper usually gets thrown away during move-out after deciding that I can probably find one of the readings online if I really need it again.
While I was thinking of an idea for the assignment and estimating my carbon and ecological footprints, the image of the large stacks of paper that I put into recycling bins at the end of every year came to mind when I was asked about the amount of trash that I generate. I then thought that this is generated waste that can easily be prevented. From now on I’ve decided that I will no longer print out readings and I will instead bring my iPad to class so I can still have the readings handy during discussions and lectures. This will hopefully greatly decrease the amount of paper waste that I generate each semester.
Although this may seem like a simple task, I do believe it will be challenging. While reading, I like to mark-up the text with pens and highlighters because I feel that it helps me follow along better. I also like to write down my thoughts in the margins so I have points to talk about in the event of in-class discussions. However, I can use the Preview program on my laptop to do all of my mark-ups on the computer while reading. Although it may take me a little while to get used doing my readings online, I think that this will be a helpful skill for the future especially as I look ahead to graduate school where most of my readings will be primary research papers and not from textbooks. If I can get inthe habit of doing all of my readings online, I believe that I will cut down on the majority of my paper waste and ultimately live a more sustainable lifestyle.