The central sustainability issue behind my internship revolves around paper and reducing paper waste. I work under the recycling coordinator as an intern at UIC’s Office of Sustainability.
The most interesting element of my internship was mapping out a building on UIC’s campus called Facilities Management. I went around the building and printed out status report sheets from every single printer in every office, on two different floors throughout the entire building. These status report sheets will help me gather information on precisely how much paper is being printed. The focus of my project is to reduce paper waste, therefore mapping out this one building would give me an idea of how much each person prints in a typical office space. I had the opportunity to visit the building again after 30 days from my initial visit to gather the status reports. By making another visit, I would be able to capture in a 30-day window how much paper is being printed. The point of this mapping project was to show others how excessive the number of personal printers’ individuals have per office space is. Instead of using one main printer for an entire office space; many people use their own personal printers to print work or unrelated work material. Some of these printers do not have double sided printing and thus paper gets wasted.
There are solutions to excess printing: printing on both sides of the sheet, utilize email to send documents and memos instead of printing or faxing, and to always purchase paper with highest recycled content. My project makes UIC more sustainable because by analyzing printing patterns, I can use that data to show others the amount of paper that is being printed just from one building. It is a reminder to save paper and go digital. With less paper being used; less trees will be cut down, biodiversity is saved, more CO2 will be absorbed, and the effects of climate change will be mitigated.