Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

There is no question that the environment is a big issue to many people no matter what their location. Like companies and households, college communities have taken on the concept of being green and at WCU it is no different.One example of the environmental awareness on campus is a green experiment being run in part by Sykes Student Union Director Dave Timmann. The experiment, Timmann said, focuses on paper waste at the lab located on the third floor at the Sykes building.

The experiment was brought about from a discussion among staff members concerned about the amount of paper waste generated there.

“We wanted to show students how much waste there is, which leads to green related issues, funding issues, printer jams, and the like,” Timmann said.

A great deal of students’ academic work is often required to be printed out as a hard copy and handed in. Factor in the number of those who use the lab and it gives an idea of how much paper gets used. Also, anyone who has printed a document knows that many times something will print in the wrong layout, prompting another print job.

Timmann credits Sykes Student Union associate director Christina Brenner for coming up with the idea for the green experiment.

“Three of our students last year were in a class studying sustainability issues and urged us to consider recycled paper,” Brenner said.

According to Brenner, the concern of the students brought about an informal poll among staff and the Union Advisory Board. In regards to making a green move, Brenner added that all were supportive of using partially recycled computer paper in the lab.

“We roughly estimate 300 to 400 students use the lab on a weekly basis,” Brenner said, adding that Sunday nights through Wednesdays are the busiest.

Brenner said that six to seven reams of paper is typical usage; at least one to two reams are consistently found in the recycle bucket.

Given those numbers, a switch to at least partially recycled paper would somewhat curb the environmental impact of paper waste.

According to Brenner, the university has instituted a “paper cut” system where students cannot print more than 75 pages a day. As Brenner stated, this policy is in effect at any networked printer on campus, yet still has not stemmed the tide of wasted paper.

“We were talking about how to curb this further, and the idea of just illustrating the waste was offered,” Brenner said. The idea of a paper waste illustration was brought to the table at a Sykes staff meeting held last week.

Brenner said that on Monday, the staff placed a display in the lab with the attached signs above the table. However, according to Brenner, someone did not think it was helpful and he or she took all the paper.

Brenner added what she and others noticed, regarding paper waste and students’ habits and use of the lab.

“We now find that some students take the paper or reuse it in the printer,” Brenner said.

According to Brenner, the lab is not staffed on a continued basis and students have to call downstairs when paper runs out.

The habit of recycling paper at the lab may not only cut down on waste, but also save some phone calls for more paper. This in turn, may cut back slightly on the electricity used at the Sykes Student Union building.

The duration of the green experiment is indefinite according to Brenner, yet the staff hopes that they can continue to raise awareness. Brenner and other Sykes staff members hope to limit wasted paper without reducing the support they try to give to students.

According to the WCU Web site, the university has an environmental council whose members are working towards campus-wide sustainability. A campus environmental council and the Sykes green experiment are just a few ways in which the university strives to be green-minded.

Carol Dwyer is a fourth-year student majoring in English and communication studies. She can be reached at

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