Sustainability Initiative  




Our Success Stories: Progress with Paper

The consumption of paper has increased three times since 1960 and Americans generate 85 tons of paper waste. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates about 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges are put in landfills annually. ( Aquinas College is committed to minimizing the amount of copy paper purchased and used on campus with initiatives such as utilizing online communications, installing printers with double-sided printing defaults, and encouraging direct deposit. Whenever possible, the college purchases copy paper with the highest recycled content allowable by the fiscal year's budget.
Multi-Function Copy Machines

The Aquinas campus has made a switch to more resourceful multi-function machines. These machines allow students and faculty to scan, print, and make copies more efficiently than the old machines. A notable function of the machines is the ability to scan documents, convert them into .pdf format, and email them in order to provide a digital copy of the document. The multi-function machines are set to environmentally friendly defaults, including better margins, reduced toner usage, and automatic double-sided printing. Overall, our intent is to reduce the amount of printing and paper used on campus, and these new machines can help us do so.

AQ Saint Now Available Online
Implementation Status: Fully Implemented
As Aquinas College continues to its journey toward sustainability, the campus newspaper, “The Saint,” is now available online.  The website,, provides students, faculty and staff with the latest news, blogs, photos and more.  The online newspaper allows students to view articles in paperless form, hopefully resulting in fewer paper copies printed in the future. The website also allows students to comment and express their feelings toward articles, activities, and events. Furthermore, the online availability of Aquinas’ newspaper may be more convenient for some students.
Specialty Paper Advancements
Implementation Status: Fully Implemented, as stated below
Aquinas College continues to strive for sustainability, most recently greening a part of the paper procurement process on campus. The following are recent paper achievements, mostly attributable to Sally Reeves in the College Relations Department:
  • The 2007-2008 Aquinas Course Catalog was printed on paper that is fifteen percent post-consumer recycled content. 
  • The cover of the catalog is printed on Forest Stewardship Council sources, which means that the paper for the cover came from exceptionally managed forests. 
  • Both the Aquinas College letterhead and business cards are composed of thirty percent post-consumer recycled content. 
  • Aquinas business cards are also Green Seal Certified, as the card stock is bleached using a chlorine-free process. The card stock is also manufactured using wind power and printed with inks that do not contain heavy metals.
Reduce Paper Consumption and Use Process-Chlorine Free (PCF) Copy Paper
Lara Fulton and Ali Svendsen (Sustainable Business students) submitted this proposal in the spring of 2007. The proposal aimed to reduce paper consumption on Aquinas' campus and switch to Process-Chlorine Free (PCF) copy paper.
In August 2008, Aquinas began purchasing paper with the following characteristics: 30% post-consumer recycled content; Process-Chlorine free; Forest Stewardship Council Certification; and Green Seal Certification. While the Center for Sustainability always strives to reduce paper use on campus, specific recent efforts toward that goal include:
  • Using the Moose and Acorn to advertise specific personal choices to help reduce paper use.
  • Educating on the importance of reducing paper use on the Sustainability Initiative web site
  • Through the online knowledge base (ITS Department), students, staff, and faculty have access to specific instructions to change default margins in MS Word and print double sided.
  • Incoming freshman and select returning students are specifically targeted with pertinent facts and information in the Student Sustainability Handbook.
The formal proposal received a value rating of 5 in the Joint Sustainability Committee, and passed the Student Senate on February 27, 2008.
Direct Deposit
Largely encouraged by student workers around campus, direct deposit was made available to Aquinas students in February 2008. The idea was also submitted as a formal sustainability initiative by students Carol Parsaca and Chris Meyer in March 2007. However, the timing was not ideal to implement such a program, as the online time sheet program was recently introduced. There are many advantages to the utilization of direct deposit in place of paper check payments. First, direct deposit transactions are fast, reliable and safe.  For individuals who drive to the bank to deposit their check, they may reduce their carbon emissions with direct deposit. Most importantly, direct deposit is a more convenient method to pay our student workers and helps build social capital on campus.
Online Time Sheets for Hourly Employees
Implementation Status: Fully Implemented in 2007
In 2007, Aquinas College implemented an Online Time System that performs much better than the conventional punch-in time system. The system saves at least 700 sheets of paper per pay period, or approximately 18,200 sheets of paper a year.  It also saves on associated printing costs, such as toner purchases and wear/tear on the printer.  Hourly employees with paid time off can more accurately track the number of hours used and available, as well as request time off online.  Finally, the new time system saves time- approximately 100 days of processing. (This figure was adjusted to account for additional supervisor time required to manage the online system.) This time can now be allocated to more productive areas of work.
Residence Life Switches to Survey Monkey
During the 2006-2007 academic year, the Residence Life Department replaced three major paper surveys with electronic versions. The department utilizes the web resource to send the survey via e-mail to resident students. The initial cost of the web resource is offset by the decrease in student labor cost. Student worker time can now be dedicated to other office functions, rather than preparing, mailing, compiling, and reporting the results of the survey. Furthermore, copy paper used for the actual survey instruments, promotional posters, and reports have been reduced by over 94%, saving approximately 4.5 reams of paper each year. Finally, the quality of the survey responses have improved. More students actually choose to add comments on the electronic version, compared to the paper versions of the surveys.