Paper usage campaign

Kat Frei, Activities Coordinator (Volunteering and Charitable Fundraising) and Tristan Tipping, CEO of Bucks Students' Union

Every year the Students’ Union runs campaigns across campus to promote sustainability: aiming to lower our carbon footprint and encourage students and staff to do their bit for the environment.

Each year, we ask students how they think we can make the University a more sustainable institution and what issues are most important to them. This year, they came up with unnecessary paper usage, with one student commenting that they have been asked to submit assignments both electronically and in paper form. To students this seems wasteful because of the environmental impacts and the money they need to spend.

After researching the issue, we produced a poster illustrating the environmental impact of using paper. We found that 4 out of 10 trees are cut down for paper production, negatively affecting the environment for several reasons. It is estimated that two trees produce enough oxygen for a family of four for a year, as well as absorbing CO2. This is beneficial as CO2 in our environment contributes to climate change, which in turn has led to species extinction, flooding and droughts across the world. There is also a huge amount of water used in paper production - a vital resource which millions across the world don’t have clean, safe access to.

From here we polled students online, with 28 students saying that they have been asked to hand in assignments electronically and in paper form. We contacted lecturers and spoke to them about reducing, or completely getting rid of, paper assignments. We had a really good response, with many lecturers agreeing to change submission and wanting to know more about the campaign. We plan to speak to students and staff again later in the term to hear about any positive changes to paper submissions that have been made.

The campaign has also had a positive impact on the Students’ Union who has decided to go paper-free in meetings. The Students' Union estimates they print around 17,500 pieces of paper a year for meetings, so this will be a huge reduction!

To find out more about sustainability on campus please visit the sustainability section of our website