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By Karen Herland
Gillian Roper is a member of greeniits (greeniits.pbwiki.com/) and is, by her own admission, “passionate about the paper issue. Paper is the massive one in terms of energy and waste.”
She was encouraged by colleague Chantal Picard to attend the first sustainable ambassadors meeting in 2005. Several other co-workers also turned up and formed green-iits to brainstorm ways to instigate sustainable changes in their department. Roper said that the group has grown organically, with individuals taking on tasks that interest them and supporting each other’s efforts.
Since the group formed, the department has done away with paper coffee cups, “the department bought mugs for each of us.”
The group maintains their website to share sustainability tips for work and home, track statistics on reductions in paper use (in two years, paper consumption dropped by 50,000 sheets), set meetings, run contests and pretty much anything else that can support their efforts to make their offices greener.
The have an environmental policy posted on the site, which they submitted to their administration for approval just before Christmas. No word yet, “but they’re always receptive to what we suggest. They have gone ahead and implemented many of the elements of the policy.”
In addition to the mug purchase, Andrew McAusland, Associate Vice-President of IITS, approached the group last fall with a plan to reward green initiatives. Staff members not involved in greeniits were encouraged to write a short essay proposing a sustainable initiative. The top three suggestions were granted prizes, and greeniits is looking into implementing some of the suggestions made.
Roper worked hard to establish one-sided paper recuperation across the department. When collection boxes begin to fill up, an email brings greeniits together during a lunch hour. Members sort through the paper to ensure that no confidential material has slipped in. The flattened pages at the bottom of the box are put into a green printer. That designated machine prints draft material on the unused side of the sheets.
Other pages are converted into 99-page one-sided paper pads by the copy centre in the library building. The department purchases those pads for staff use instead of regular pads.
Roper encourages double-sided printing in the department. “It’s really important to remove paper from the stream,” she said.
It’s a task she takes seriously in both her office life and as an employee. She worked on a Document Upload feature that allows students and faculty to attach documents to a student’s file online. It means less paper for student applications to the university.