I'm immersed in a number of sustainability and environmental projects at the moment – facilitating an online community inquiry (I'll tell you more about that later – right now we're still in stealth mode!) and subsequently immersing myself in research, readings and attending events.
Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by DSRD (Department of State & Regional Development, NSW) as part of Small Business Month – called Sustainability Edge. The presenters were Jon Dee, founder of Planet Ark; Katie Patrick, founder of Green Pages; and David Trewin, NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC).
It was a really powerful seminar, made more engaging by such passionate presenters, who are committed to driving change and sustainable lifestyles! And a whole stack of stats that you just need to pay attention to – and if you don't? Well – see the bottom of this post – I think Greg, the science teacher says it rather well!
So – the question I've heard again and again over the past few weeks: "What can I do to make a difference?"
Lots… both personally and professionally!
Right now I'm going to focus on your professional environment – particularly your learning environments!
Let's start with an office basic: Paper
Jon Dee is currently in the throes of launching his latest initiative: Project Paperless.
Now – just to get you started.. did you know:
The average Australian worker uses 10,000 sheets of office paper per year?
That equates to 35 million trees a year by Australian workers…. (and then there's the amount of water and carbon emissions that accompany the production of all those trees into printing paper)!
hmmm now that's scary!!!
So, I wonder how much paper the average training department uses?
Do you provide handouts / reference materials to students / learners in hardcopy?
Do you print these materials double-sided?
Do you print articles 2-up? That's landscape to pages to a side?
Do you really need to provide printed materials?
I've been asking this question for a few years now – and the response is always:
"But that's what people want? Something to take away and feel that they've got value for money?"
Well, sorry, but that's just not a good enough response anymore!
Why not state – up front – that no printed materials will be supplied as part of your contribution to reducing paper consumption?
Providing participants with electronic versions of materials – whether from file respositories, on CDs, in intranet folders, even in LMS (although don't think that means I support LMSs) or perhaps let's use collaborative materials on wikis – is not only environmentally responsible, it's taking your role as an educator seriously. You, as an educator, are an influencer and thus socially responsible to provide informed guidance.
Now – as for "value for money" – that's about the quality of the learning experiences, is it not?
Since when is a learning event measured by the quality of the handouts? And if it is… well – don't start me.. !!
Here's the challenge: Reduce your paper usage by 50%
Project Paperless is asking for 20% – but I think learning initiatives could do soooo much more than that – let's prove that the quality of learning is not measure by the amount of paper we use, but by the learning interactions created!
If you join the Learning Technologies Ning community we'll be looking for innovative ways that learning departments can reduce their paper usage – so swing by and share your strategies, empower others to reduce their paper usage too!
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