4B The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - The Michigan Daily
College students are on the
vanguard in embracing an
eco-friendly lifestyle. But higher
education's paper dependency is
as old as academia itself.
Mike Dolsen ( Daily Staff Writer.
At H&M at Briarwood Mall, two nearly identical button-
up shirts present a question that socially-conscious col-
-*at $24.90 - or not to buy organic - for $16.90?
For LSA sophomore J.P. Dingens, that extra $8 could pay
for dinner and a coffee, put gas in his car or be another drop
in the bucket toward paying rent. But like rising numbers of
young people have decided, Dingens will pay more to harm'
the environment less. I'M VERY BOUND TO
"(The) shirts seem to hold upbetter, and they're definitely U
more comfortable," he said. "The only drawback is that it USING A LOT OF PAPER
costs a little more, but it's definitely worth it in the long run.B
It seems like a new thing for the environmental era, and I'm ... BECAUSE I TEACH
happy to be a part of it."
More college students make the switch to environmental- W RITING. W HAT I DO TO
ly friendly brands every year. A study by Harris Interactive,
an online market research firm, found that 41 percent of GET RID OF ALL MY GUILT
students polled in 2008 prefer socially responsible products
compared to 37 percent in 2007 and 24 percent in 2006. IS TO PLANT TREES
But while students try to satisfy their sense of ecological IN THE FALL,
responsibility with organic backpacks and recycled note-N.
books, the University's paper-dependent academic culture
still chafes against the need to be green.
A survey by Aramark, the facility management firm that
helped the Dana Building earn its LEED Gold certification LSA LECTURER
for sustainability, found that last year, 9 percent of college- KEITH TAYLOR
aged people preferred organic food. But many University
students are going beyond fruits and vegetables to work
environmental consciousness into every aspect of their
Organic Bliss, which opened on Liberty Street this year,
offers everything from biodegradable coffee cups, to cream
that lessens post-pregnancy swelling. Melissa Bryant, the
store's owner, said she worried before opening the shop
that buying organic would prove to be too trendy to develop
a store around. But on a campus where Meijer is frequent-
ly snubbed for Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, Bryant has
found a market for her non-toxic dish soap.
"One of the reasons I hesitated to open the store was that BY THE NUM BERS-
I didn't want to be part of a trend," Bryant said. "I've been
interested in organic products for a long time, and I've even
been a little put off by the way that it's become trendy now.
But honestly, if that's what it takes to increase awareness, I
don't think it's necessarily a bad thing."
LSA junior Ethan Barnes said he cares about buy-
ing organic products more than organic food because the
production of synthetic materials like plastic and nylon
requires destructive chemicals. l as n
"I don't even know what a backpack is made of, but it's
chemicals that are synthetically created at a plant, which PERCENTAGE OF COLLEGE-AGED STUDENTS
requires a huge energy input," Barnes said. "I'm not say- WHO PREFER SOCALLY RESPONSIBLE BRANDS
ing that organic products don't require the energy, but they
don't require the raw materials that in their creation pro-
cess do destroy the environment."
But Barnes said the biggest change he's made in his pur-
chasing habits is simply buying less.
"I wouldn't buy (organic products) unless I needed to
replace something," he said. "The best thing I can do is to1
not buy anything. The best form of environmentalism is F
reducing your consumption." NUMBER OF SHEETS OF STANDARD'
Students are acting on their concerns about the environ- WHITE PAPER THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
ment because they understand global climate change willU
affect them before their parents, said Johannes Foufopou- USED IN THE 2008 FISCAL YEAR
los, an assistant professor in the School'of Natural Resourc-
es and Environment.
"I think (young people) are increasingly aware of the
urgency and the severity of the problems, especially when it
comes to global climate change," Foufopoulos said. "(They) Sources:(Top)Harris Interactive, (Bottom) the English department
are realizing that, 'Hey this'is our world, and all you guys
are fucking it up.'"
But cash-strapped college students have to sacrifice more writing," said LSA lecturer Keith Taylor, who teaches Eng-
to adopt an eco-friendlylifestyle than settled AnnArborites. lish and biology. "What I do to get rid of all my guilt is to
On top of a limited budget, a lot of the challenge comes from plant trees in the fall. I've been doing that every year now for
being a student. While academia espouses environmental- ten years in one of the parks or in my own back lot."
ism as a philosophy, classroom customs don't follow suit. For School of Art & Design junior Megan Touhey, the
Professors ask students to purchase the newest edition conflict ofinterests rings especially true while watching the
of a text to ensure that class discussion revolves around the Fishbowl printers spit out the hundreds of sheets of paper
same material and page numbers. Course syllabuses pro- makingup her class course packs, syllabuses and additional
hibit essays from being printed double sided to make room- reading.
for in-depth comments on the back of pages. Classes require To keep her paper use to a'minimum, Touhey said she
several differentbooks as well as a course pack. tries to read all course materials online. But she finds that
"I'm very bound to using a lot of paper ... because I teach her computer's glaring screen strains her eyes and its associ-
ation with time-wasting activities leads her to distraction.
"The problem that reading online presents is the other
stimulations that the brain associates with the computer,
like Facebook and e-mail," Touhey said. "It's alot harder to
be distracted when you have a hard copy that you're taking
Foufopoulos, the SNRE professor, has also found that
education and environmentalism conflict. But he said the
awareness his students gain in class will have a more last-
ing impact on the environment than a few hundred course
"If you are in the classroom, you are somewhat limited
in the amount of green you can be," Foufopoulos said. "You
have to do what you have to do. We do what we can do, but
what is more important is what we discuss and that we
address these issues in class."
But even the most traditional professors are realizing
that their paper wasting ways can't go on forever. At the
beginning of the semester, the English department sent out
an e-mail asking lecturers to curb their printing after the
department used 1.1 million pieces of standard white paper.
in the 2008 fiscal year.
"To make this amount of paper, English has consumed
85 trees, 35,000 gallons of water, and 20 barrels of oil," the
The list of suggestions included in the e-mail - reduc-
ing margins and font size, printing double-sided and reus-
ing sheets - have been making their way into the classes
of professors in every field even without a departmental
"I really get overwhelmed by the amount of paper that is
wasted at this university," said Olga Lopez-Cotin, a Span-
ish lecturer in the Residential College. "When my students
have to print, I ask them to print on papers that people have
Lopez-Cotin also encourages students to purchase used
and outdated editions of texts.
Many professors encourage students to read material
online by making their course packs available only online
rather than sending them to local printers.
"I try to move away from paper, and although we do use
a text book, we used to have a course pack and now we put
it on Course Tools so people can download it and view it
onscreen," Foufopoulos said. "If need be, they can print it
out, but we're not going to print it out for them."
Foufopoulos decided to put course materials online after
students pressured him to print less.
"When I suggest that we present information in a digital
format instead of a printing out a course syllabus, I've done
this because I think this is important and because I've got-
ten pressure from the students to do this," he said.
Lopez-Cotin goes even further, making a point to
encourage students to be more environmentally respon-
sible in their own lives. Meeting mostly with freshmen for
lunch and Spanish tutoring, she said she likes to make stu-
dents think about the ecological implications of their daily
"A couple times a week I have lunch with students and
we talk about how much they waste and why they eat in
such large portions," Lopez said.
Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez, a lecturer in the School of
Natural Resources and Environment, said she tries to reach
out to students in disciplines that don't involve environ-
"I love to teach Engineering students who wouldn't nor-
mally know about the environment," she said.
Since one of Adlerstein-Gonzalez's passions is art, she
has taken it upon herself to help art students become more
environmentally conscious and thoughtful.
"I teach a class at the art school called Art Eco and the
point of the class was to inspire students who would nor-
mally do art without considering the environment to get
inspired with various artwork, to not only change them-
selves but to also change the people who look at their work,"
Adlerstein-Gonzalez said. "It's double teaching."
But regardless of what professors teach in class,
the University can't fully take up the environmental-
ism banner until expectations of students are drasti-
cally altered. Until the English department can limit
its printing to less than 1 million sheets, campus's sus-
tainable Dana Building won't be more than a superficial