This is an email discourse between myself and Chapman University’s Chancellor, Daniele C. Struppa, Ph.D., regarding the implementation of a paperless policy.

Stephanie (3/28/2011):

“…I will respectfully address you in my blog asking that you erect a paperless policy for Chapman professors. The purpose is to persuade you to mandate by the Fall 2011 semester that course materials, syllabi, and class schedules be posted on Black Board or other electronic mediums. Students still have the option to print out hard copies of these materials but the initial elimination will make a significant impact on our paper consumption at Chapman.”

Chancellor Struppa (3/29/2011):

“…As to the policy, while I have no problem with its intent, I should confess that in general, I am not so supportive of “centrally imposed mandates”, because unless you have a way to enforce them, you weaken the concept itself of mandate. For example, in this case, what would we do if a professor does not follow the policy. Would we reprimand him? Would we reduce their salary? I am sure you would agree that neither step would be feasible, and so we would just be limited to ‘asking’ faculty to follow the rule. If this is the case, then I would rather send out this as a recommendation.

Finally, since this would be a behavioral change for faculty, it would have to go through the Faculty Senate, and for this I am copying the President, Walter Piper.”

Stephanie (3/29/11):

“Thank you so much for your response. It is nice to know that as a Chapman student I can communicate and be heard…

…I think that any small step, even a recommendation to use less paper by you, would be great. I do understand your point about a mandate, and I’m glad you brought it up. It is true that people do not feel obliged to do something or follow a movement if they are forced. It would be great to plant seeds of sustainable understanding in the minds of Chapman students and faculty alike, and see if they grow…”

Chancellor Struppa (3/30/11):

“…I will bring your request to the Senate Executive Board this Friday, and knowing our faculty I suspect they will be quite supportive of your initiative. Most of my colleagues are very environmentally minded…”

Walter Piper (3/30/11):

“I am happy to speak to you about this. It seems like a really good idea — at least as a recommendation, as the Chancellor says….”

Conclusion? Things like the ambiguous idea of sustainability take time and tiny steps to accomplish. Ladies and gentlemen, we have made one tiny step. I am scheduling a meeting with the Walter Piper, the faculty senate president, next week. I will keep you posted on our discussion.

Mother Earth smiles with color over the Chapman pool in delight of the new outlook on sustainable thinking.



If Chapman University has an overall awareness among students and faculty about the benefits of going paperless, maybe we can make conscious efforts to change old habits and move forward. Being conscious is the first step. If you are aware of the effects that certain decisions have on the planet, than why ignore them? We can do it. Time to move forward with sustainability on our minds. Chapman’s mission is to provide a personalized education of distinction that leads to inquiring, ethical, and productive lives as global citizens. Part of being a productive global citizen means taking steps to improve the wellbeing and sustainability of our planet. It is time to make little changes in daily routines, like walking or biking to class, recycling bottles and cans, and moving towards a paperless policy. Answers has the breakdown. Numbers like these are not meant to cause empty emotions or upset, they are meant to advocate change. Read the facts and see what you think. There are more than a few reasons why trying to live a healthy, environmentally friendly lifestyle could benefit us now and future generations later.

Why to Go Green: By the Numbers

  • 1 pound per hour: the amount of carbon dioxide that is saved from entering the atmosphere for every kilowatt-hour of renewable energy produced.
  • 60 percent: the reduction in developmental problems in children in China who were born after a coal-burning power plant closed in 2006.
  • 35 percent: the amount of coal’s energy that is actually converted to electricity in a coal-burning power plant. The other two-thirds is lost to heat.
  • 2.5 percent: the percentage of humans’ carbon dioxide emission produced by air travel now, still making it the largest transportation-related greenhouse gas emitter.
  • 5 percent: the percentage of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions expected to be produced by air travel by the year 2050.
  • 1.5 acres: the amount of rainforest lost every second to land development and deforestation, with tremendous losses to habitat and biodiversity.
  • 137: the number of plant, animal and insect species lost every day to rainforest deforestation, equating to roughly 50,000 species per year.
  • 4 pounds, 6 ounces: the amount of cosmetics that can be absorbed through the skin of a woman who wears makeup every day, over the period of one year.
  • 61 percent: the percentage of women’s lipstick, out of the 33 tested, found to contain lead in a test by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
  • 36: the number of U.S. states that are anticipating local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013.
  • 1 out of 100: the number of U.S. households that would need to be retrofitted with water-efficient appliances to realize annual savings of 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 3 trillion: the number of gallons of water, along with $18 billion, the U.S. would save each year if every household invested in water-saving appliances.
  • 64 million tons: the amount of material prevented from going to landfill or incineration thanks to recycling and composting in 1999.
  • 95 percent: the amount of energy saved by recycling an aluminum can versus creating the can from virgin aluminum. That means you can make 20 cans out of recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make one can out of new material. Energy savings in one year alone are enough to light a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years.
  • 113,204: the number, on average, of aluminum cans recycled each minute of each day.
  • 3: the number of hours a television set can run on the energy saved from recycling just one aluminum can.
  • 40 percent: the percentage of energy saved by recycling newsprint over producing it from virgin materials

Feedback: What were the most shocking statistics to read? Do you think you could change any of your current habits to move towards a greener lifestyle?

Learning from University Nebraska-Lincoln

I came across an interesting article on the paperless policy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The policy requires teachers to post all course materials on Blackboard for students to print off. The article did raise a point that students had to pay for their own printing at 9 cents a sheet. Although students may have to spend a few cents here and there (yes they do add up, I am a college student, and I do realize the value of pocket change) the benefits of requiring print materials to be posted in electronic format significantly cuts costs and SAVES money. A long syllabus can be easily accessed free of charge on an electronic medium. Printing it out for 30 students costs money for paper, ink, energy to run the printer, energy to make the paper, energy to make the factories that make the paper etc. Russell Ganim, the Department of Modern Languages chairman at the university said, “our efforts to cut back on paper have saved quite a bit of time and money, and that doesn’t count the environmental benefits.” Students still have the option and ability to print out course materials if they would benefit educationally from reading a hard copy. The amount of students who will actually go print off a syllabus as opposed to reading it online, make a paperless policy worth instating.

What do you say Chancellor Struppa? I think Chapman could really benefit from your proposal of a paperless policy.

A Beer Can, Can Mean More Than A Good Time!

College is a time to learn, challenge work ethic, and experience new cultures, ideas and thoughts. On occasion, it is a time to party. Anything in moderation is fine, the problem with college parties, however, is the wasteful nature of the aftermath. It takes a lot of work to clean up empty bottles and cans, let alone separate them and drag them to a recycling center. BUT take a minute to think about the benefits of recycling bottles and cans the morning after. You do something good for the environment by recycling cans instead of throwing them into the trash, where they will then go to a landfill and pile up on top of all the other waste (half of which could have probably been recycled). You clean up after a great party and now have TONS of recyclable materials. When you take them to a recycling plant, many of them will PAY you. After a great night, you have to clean up anyways; no one leaves the backyard rotting for too long before it become unbearable. So why not put recyclable materials in different bags when doing the clean up? Then throw them into a friend’s truck and drive down the street to dispose the proper way. You can even make a few bucks and save it for the next time.

At the next party, have a few different bags or bins out specifically for cans and bottles, that way it is even easier in the morning when it is time to clean.

Look up the nearest recycling plant. There are two in Orange near Chapman:

  • Albertsons Store: 8440 E Chapman Ave Orange 92869
  • Pacific Ranch Market: 7540 E Chapman Ave Orange 92869

Now there is no excuse. Throwing cans and bottles in the trash is a waste, it is bad for the environment, and it wastes MORE energy sitting at a landfill. Think about all the students out there who have big ragers and don’t recycle. That is a LOT of cans and bottles. Recycling is a win-win situation. You can have your party and make your money back by recycling.

Try it. Small steps. Imagine if every college student who had a party recycled…

The Current Sustainability Situation at Chapman

Chapman has made an effort to promote a sustainable campus environment, although there is definitely room for more improvement and awareness. On its website Chapman lists initiatives and actions taken to improve the University. The new science building adheres to LEED standards. The financial aid office went “paperless” in 2003 eliminating more than 300,000 sheets of paper annually and removing 50 filing cabinets by doing so. Effective January 1, 2009, the university only uses recycled paper for copy, printer, and colored paper. Although “requests for non-recycled paper may still be made provided the circumstances warrant non-recycled paper” according to the website. I’m not sure why anything would warrant the use of non-recycled paper? The webpage says the university has external and internal recycling bins. I have seen, and do use the bins on campus; however, there is definitely a lack of recycling bins for paper towels in the bathrooms. The trashcans are full to the brim with used paper towels and rarely do I see a LARGE blue bin for recycling the paper.

So nice try Chapman, a small step is great. Now lets keep making those steps. It is time, Chancellor Struppa, to recommend a paperless policy to faculty. If Chapman is going to say it is a sustainable campus, then it needs to show that it is a sustainable campus.

Quick Facts From Waste Management

Just some quick facts to get you thinking about our annual waste:

  • 4.5 million tons of office paper is thrown away each year in the United States.
  • Enough office and writing paper is thrown away each year to build a 12-foot high wall of paper from Los Angeles to New York City.
  • Annually, each person in the United States uses paper equivalent to two pine trees.
  • Recycled paper saves 33% of the total energy needed for virgin paper.
  • The average American uses 650 lbs. of paper per year.
  • Producing recycled white paper creates 74% less air pollution, 35% less water pollution, and 75% less processed energy than producing paper from virgin fibers.

Good to know! Thanks Waste Management!

We read these facts and understand them, but taking action to initiate change needs more than just a quick read. However, it isn’t difficult. If Recycled paper saves 33% of the total energy needed for virgin paper, than simply remembering to put your paper in a recycle bin instead of a trash can can make a difference. Think of the amount of paper we go through as college students each year. Every class has a syllabus and class schedule, most of them automatically printed by the professor and handed out on the first day of class. So what happens after four months at the end of the semester? I think its safe to say that most of our materials from freshman year, and from all of high school for that matter, are probably not displayed nicely in a memory book. We’ve been there done that…and at some point Spring cleaning takes its course and consolidation begins. So paper gets thrown away…this time, throw it in the recycle bin. It’s that easy!

Utilizing Black Board or other electronic mediums to distribute these materials would make the most sense. It would cost less than printing out multiple pages each class for 6,000 students, it would reduce the clutter under your bed after the semester, and it would save the planet by reducing our carbon footprint.

Remember that each small step counts.