One item I noticed as a similar theme in all of our attempts to start becoming a part of our sustainable behavior community was our mutual belief that although we knew that less paper was better, we understood why more paper seemed more practical or efficient sometimes. Each one of us pointed out how superfluous paper usage just seemed like a normal part of life: printing out readings for class, not double siding our printed papers and having the increased ease of being able to mark up a paper copy of some sort of assignment are just some examples amongst the items listed as benefits to paper usage by my peers. Although my sustainability challenge did not relate to printing assignments as opposed to using i-pads or lap tops in class nor did it relate to sticky notes or other academic type paper usage, I felt the same understanding of the natural practicality of quick paper towel usage.
Paper towel, like printing paper or hand-outs, is everywhere we look on campus and very easy to access. The difference between my challenge and my community’s was that my challenge tended to be more individualized and choice-driven. Some courses force students to print out hand-outs or do not allow technology to be used in the place of paper during class. I always had the choice of using paper towels, it was not a requirement that I use three towels to wash my hands instead of one…I was doing that out of my own laziness not an attempt to fulfill a class requirement.
Simultaneously, although I was always somewhat different from the rest of the group about what paper usage I was trying to cut down on and what the motivations for this paper usage were, I was influenced by the idea that all of us were trying to work on the same issue in such a broad way. It led me to the somewhat depressing realization that although I was cutting down on my paper towel usage quite efficiently, I use paper in so many different parts of my life it is unbelievable! Yes I no longer use too much paper towel to dry my hands and I use reusable wash clothes for my makeup and face amongst other changes, but I still print dozens of pages of reading every night (I am an English major). What I mainly took from my community experience is that I need to take the lessons I learned about concentrating on my actions and thinking about the environment as a whole when remembering not to waste needlessly and apply this knowledge to the rest of my life.