GU has dramatically decreased overall paper consumption in comparison to past years, according to results from the annual assessment of paper consumption.
According to a release issued by Professor Brian Henning, the co-chair of the Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability (ACSS), students, faculty and staff used 1,135,000 fewer sheets of paper in 2012 compared to 2011. Henning is an associate professor of philosophy at GU.
Along with this accomplishment, the University switched to 30 percent recycled paper, a major change from the 100 percent virgin paper used in previous years.
“I am equally excited about the shift to 30 percent post-consumer content recycled paper and the significant decrease in paper consumption,” Henning said. “Combined, these have had a dramatic impact.”
The results of the ACSS show a significant environmental impact: The reduction of paper consumption, and the switch the 30 percent recycled paper, saved 591 trees, 307,425 gallons of water, 407 million BTUs of electricity and 97,270 fewer pounds of CO2. These amounts are comparable to removing 7.9 passenger vehicles from the roads, equivalent to 4,905 gallons of gasoline.
“The initiative to move toward post-consumer content recycled paper was part of the initial implementation of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which President McCulloh signed in January 2011. This effort led to the approval of Gonzaga’s Sustainable Purchasing and Design Policies in November 2011,” Henning said.
The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment acknowledges global warming is a pending issue and caused by humankind, therefore it works to unite schools in fighting to reduce their ecological impact.
Part of its mission statement, available on the website, reads, “We further recognize the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest, in order to avert the worst impacts of global warming and to reestablish the more stable climatic conditions that have made human progress over the last 10,000 years possible.”
Though the paper use has dropped significantly, ACSS has not been able to identify a major factor as the causation of this reduction.
Along with a substantial environmental impact, GU was able to benefit financially from the changes as well, reducing costs by $8,000.
“It is my hope that the culture of sustainability will continue to grow at Gonzaga,” Henning said. “Much of this work is outlined in the recently approved Climate Action Plan. I am hopeful that students will embrace this work by thinking about how they can reduce their impact on the environment.”
The Climate Action Plan has three major goals in committing Gonzaga to sustainability, and are as listed on the University website: 1.) All members of the GU community appreciate and can articulate the relevance of ecological stewardship and sustainability to their lives and to their society; 2.) Sustainability is a guiding principle of campus decision-making process; and 3.) University operations avoid or limit a negative impact on the environment
If interested, students can become involved in implementing the Climate Action Plan, and contact firstname.lastname@example.org or like the Facebook page to stay updated.