Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Begins!

I won't say where, but I will say what. For most of the year, I teach college classes as an Adjunct professor. In English Literature, if I can manage it. What this means is that I'm totally old school. I love sitting down with books (I never intend to own a Kindle, no matter how eco-friendly, thank you!) and a stack of papers and a red pen. One of my favorite times of the school year is the end of a semester/quarter- you know, the same time of year students enjoy. In the few weeks leading up, I imagine all the joy I'll experience when I'm free... and the pile of papers that will be tossed in the recycling bin.

Back in high school, I'd save up all of my school papers and burn them all at the end of the year. While this was very fulfilling, as who doesn't like a big fire?- it wasn't very green. Now that my attention has gone more and more to being concious of the planet, I start daydreaming about just tossing a huge pile of papers into the recycling bin.

Like I said, I'm old school. I like making students turn in hard copies of their homework. I find it easier to focus when I'm sitting at a desk with a pen, instead of sitting at my computer where I can pull up various other windows. This year, between assignments from students who stopped coming to class, my planning notes, and final essays (those that didn't email them to me- see, I did make that allowance for the last essay!) I had a stack of papers probably three inches thick that I tossed in the box.

Well, naturally this led me to wonder what I could to to reduce that. Originally, when I started teaching, I had easy access to printers and copiers, so I handed out a lot more pages than I do now. These days, I post all documents and links to the class website and pull them up on the computer for class- a reduction in paper waste there. I turn off computers and lights when I leave the classroom. I write on both sides of all notepapers that I make plans on before recycling. I tear apart and recycle every part of the notepads I use up. I try hard to make things as green as possible.

Now I just need to force myself to use the computer for all assignments, and I'm thinking I just might. I don't see any way to completely eliminate paper waste from my classes- I'll at least need to have pop quizzes and in-class writing assignments, and working in a computer lab, well, not usually the best environment for having students pay attention, but I can try every semester to have a smaller pile by the end of it.

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