Sustainability dept. cuts paper use

Illustration by Kevin Chinn

Sustainability at Bellevue College is a department that coordinates uses of energy at campus. The department tries to conserve energy, transportation, and reduce greenhouse gases and waste throughout the BC environment. Two years ago, the Sustainability department, together with ASG representatives of Environmental and Social Responsibility started to work on reducing paper usage at BC.

The initial idea of cutting the use of paper came because some students do not print responsibly. Some students go over the limited amount and as a result, they use other students’ printing fund. However, the idea also came because of several other reasons.

According to Deric Gruen, the Sustainability Coordinator and Resource Conservation Manager, around seven million copies were printed at BC last year. BC employees contributed to about half of the total copies number and the other half was contributed by students.

The Environmental Advisory Committee provides information relating to copies that were made in 2009 at BC on the Sustainability department’s page on Bellevue College’s website. The information suggested that in 2009, there were 8,156,214 copies printed at campus and even if every copy was double sided, it is still more than four million sheets of paper.

The information also said that even if half of these copies were double sided, the six million sheets of paper that are used, laid closely in a line, would run from Seattle to Topeka, Kansas uninterruptedly.

Currently, students have unlimited printing at the N building. Gruen explained that the plan to reduce paper usage at BC would include limiting printing service for students at the N building and a balance on employees’ computer that will show how much he or she has printed.

On winter 2012, the information resources conducted a research and found out that the average student prints about 110 sheets of paper for a quarter. The top 15 printers, however, printed more than 2,000 sheets of paper.

The problem created feeling of unfairness among students who are printing within the suggested limit. According to Gruen, the money that students are not using for printing services could be used for other technology needs that might benefit the students instead of being used to pay for other student’s printing fees.

Based on the data collected by the Information Resources, the Environmental Advisory Committee and others, the Associated Student Government (ASG) of 2010-2011 suggested an effective point of 150 prints per student per quarter would be the best solution. Sustainability Communication Coordinator, Alex Clark said that the plan would be effective in Fall 2012.

By the beginning of fall quarter, students will be given a limit of 150 papers to print, and students will have to pay if they are printing more than the limited amount.

Currently, what is happening at Bellevue College is that many students from other institutional places who have friends at BC come to BC and use their unlimited printing service for their own business. Other institutional places do not have the unlimited printing service that BC does right now. While it is good that students are not given a limit to print, some students abuse the service and use it for different purposes.

For Clark, sustainability means finding ways to accomplish our daily basis without exhausting resources. By cutting the paper usage, it will lower the environmental impact such as pollution, energy issue and greenhouse gas emissions.

Gruen also added that aside from putting students’ money to a better use, it would teach students about accountability. He said that students would start to print responsibly and thus create a sense of accountability for their action.

If students want to know more and get involved with the Sustainability, go to their website at: or check out their Facebook page.