It’s no secret, paper usage leaves its mark on our planet, as well as our schools! From the cost of the printers to paper filing systems, there are a lot of sneaky costs associated with what’s already a significant investment for schools. How many dollars and hours are going down the drain?
Many Aussie schools are reducing paper and even going paperless, with a realisation of how paper usage in schools is taking its toll on time, dollars, and the environment.
We’ve explored the statistics, insights, and stories of schools all over, to bring you the facts everyone needs to know. Discover these effective ways of reducing your paper trail, and reinvest your resources where they’ll count the most!
Let’s crunch the numbers: Breaking down paper costs in schools
At the most basic level, the physical costs associated with paper aren’t cheap. Leaders in the education field estimate that the average school could use over 250,000 pieces of paper per year – averaging 6 cents per sheet, you’re investing a sizeable $15,000 into paper alone.
The troubling part: your paper trail is costing you much more than just the purchase of the product – in fact, many uses of paper tend to require additional costs, setting schools back tens of thousands every year in:
- Photocopying. In our schools, photocopying is often an essential part of day to day operations. In fact, Ray Fleming, the Education Marketing Manager at Microsoft, estimates that an average school spends up to $120,000 annually on photocopying - on top of the spend on paper.
- Printing. Part and parcel with photocopying, schools also spend hefty amounts on printing and the materials associated with it. Australians throw away over 18 million print cartridges per year.Printers are costly to purchase, maintain, and repair.
- Textbooks. It may not be the most obvious source of spending, but paper textbooks are also costing your school a significant amount of money. Whether its pages of textbooks that are photocopied, or individual textbooks, these can add up: some educators estimate that using digital textbooks could save schools up to $250 per student per year.
- Administrative time. As they say, time is money. The time of your staff members is precious, yet the often tedious process of managing paper can take its toll. Some estimates average 15 minutes spent for every piece of paper filed, not inclusive of finding, printing, stapling or mailing it. This means if your school uses a mere 20,000 pieces of paper, your staff could reinvest 5,000 hours each year in time with students rather than pushing paper.
While going completely paperless is a journey that takes time, there are often alternative options for the most common uses of paper in schools which can help save a hefty amount of time and money.
Reinvest your resources
Have you considered the effects of investing differently in:
With an average classroom size of 24 students, a school with 6 grades, and a newsletter every week, your school can end up using thousands of sheets of paper just to keep the wider community up-to-date with information.
With digital platforms for school communities and intuitive communication apps loaded with eNewsletter features and more, schools are opting to move their newsletters online – reducing on costly printing for students.
* Forms and permission slips
Forms are a heavy investment when it comes to paper use in the education field – whether it’s a permission slip for an upcoming excursion or a form sourcing crucial medical information for your child. On top of the tangible costs of paper and printing, using paper forms also costs time, with hours spent on data entry to input information into the school system.
While it’s not possible to completely eliminate all paper forms and exams, digital signature tools can help schools move forms online, freeing up both time and money. Going digital will also equip schools with information faster through a shared communication platform, rather than waiting for a student to return a form days or weeks later.
We can all agree, reports bring value through updating parents on crucial student performance – yet how often do these printed progress reports gather dust once the term ends?
Globally, schools are rethinking the traditional report card to make student data more user-friendly, and available across multiple platforms. At the basic level, digital reports can reduce paper waste. For more tech-savvy schools, a dashboard with student performance data can help provide parents and teachers with valuable school information in an accessible way. Reports are no longer filed away and forgotten. Rather, they can be easily used for further supporting students.
With paper-based systems come paper-based records – and this means recordkeeping. Filing takes time and energy to keep records tidy, and also takes up physical space in your schools. In fact, the “associated costs could be as much as 31 times the purchasing cost of paper, which includes not only actual price, but storage, copying, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling.”
Paper-based systems are characterised by complex and time-intensive processes, where misplaced files and missing information are more likely to occur. Therefore, making the transition simplifies your school operations for the better – more time for your staff, and faster information flow for parents!
* Paper and planet Earth: Evaluating the environmental cost
At the end of the day, reducing paper is a win-win for your school and for our planet.
To create one tonne of paper, it takes 24 trees, 90,000 litres of water, and 8,200 kilowatt hours of electricity, as well as oil and bleach. The process of creating paper also pollutes the air, not to mention the amount of landfill that’s produced from paper waste in schools. Printing also creates a significant amount of waste, with over 5,000 tonnes of material going into landfill every year.
Over to you
For a long time, paper has been the go-to for schools, fuelling worksheet photocopying sprees and driving the majority of school community communication via physical newsletters.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. How many hours and dollars could you be reinvesting into nurturing your students, and building a tight-knit school community?