8 Tech Solutions to Help Reduce Paper Consumption in Schools

This morning I was in a meeting and we were discussing the next 2 year Destiny Plan at JIS.  As we ‘unpacked’ the last destiny plan, one item really stuck out; Environmental Stewardship.  We are making progress in this area at JIS but there is still so much more we can do.  Jakarta is a huge, polluted city that needs all the help it can get in this area.

Our environmental club, ‘The Green Dragons,’ have made huge strides in reducing our lunchtime garbage by encouraging students to choose reusable plates instead of the plastic-coated cardboard containers that the cafeteria offers.

This is wonderful but we just can’t stop here.  I recently received the printing data for the Middle School and High School and in my opinion we print way too much.  If stacked, our printing for a year would be as high as a 30 story building!   We are a massive institution but that isn’t an excuse.  Students, teachers, admin and staff need to be more mindful about printing.  With Google Apps and other digital tools there is really no reason to print other than convenience or to showcase work. Most printed assignments end up in the trash at the end of the day anyway.

This photo is from 2011.  I don’t want to know what it looks like now.  Here you see an Indonesian man collecting plastic among the garbage floating on a polluted river in Jakarta.  Picture: EPA


We need to start tackling the environmental problems in Jakarta and in the world unless we want them to get even worse.  It’s a message that’s been said endless times; “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”…. but we need to keep repeating it and making people aware that their actions are effecting the future.

So here are 8 tech solutions for teachers to reduce paper consumption in school.

  1. Start running your class on Google Classroom and stop making students print out assignments.
  2. Check out the Suggesting Mode on Google Docs for correcting your students work.  You can also use the comments feature to comment on Google Docs.
  3. Use Padlet.com or Linoit to have students brainstorm using digital sticky notes instead of paper sticky notes.
  4. When assessing students, give them digital choices in how they will show their learning.  Not all assessments have to be printed out tests or printed out essays.
  5. When you do give a test, use Google forms to collect student answers.  You can even use Flubaroo to automatically grade it.
  6. Have students showcase and reflect on their work in a blog instead of posting papers around the room.  More people will end up reading what the students wrote online than flipping through papers stapled to your wall.
  7. Set up bins in your classroom for Scrap Paper and Paper to be Recycled.
  8. Instead of worksheets, use Socrative.com (a student response system) to have students answer questions.  You can tell in a couple seconds if your students are getting a concept instead of waiting until after class and grading a worksheet.