Our branch has the dubious honour of the highest statistics for printing and paper use. I was thinking the other day about ways our library could green itself and this fact came back to me.
Something about the student cohort out here makes them heavy users of our printing facilities. It could be that their courses make greater use of Blackboard and hence they print off more notes. It could also be that our students tend to prefer reading paper resources than on-screen resources.
As librarians, we also seem to generate large amounts of printed materials. Hands up who printed off the agenda just so meeting notes could be written on it? Guilty! The library’s policies? Ditto.
I’m working on trying to reduce the amount of material I print. Developing methods for email filing is a good start. Having only one copy of printed library policy per branch might be another – after all, we can always view it online at our desks.
If I had a laptop I’d be taking it to meetings to use for note taking.
Our library does seek to be green in other ways. We have the usual paper and plastic recycling bins both in the library and in the staff areas. We recycle toner cartridges. There are recycling bins for tins and glass available outside the library doors. We turn off computers and copiers overnight. Our building is heated using a sustainable heating mechanism… meaning my office is freezing and the workroom is a sauna. We try and make use of natural lighting.
But we could do better.
- Food scraps from the staff room area could be composted in a Bokashi Unit. I would be more than happy to take the results home for my garden. Or, we could put it in the gardens outside the library. The indoor plants might even benefit.
- We could use paper with a higher proportion of recycled paper included in our photocopiers.
- What about book miles? Should we be concerned about the environmental costs of ferrying books around for people at other branches?
- Should we buy more e-books to stop killing trees to make paper books? Lend out Kindles?
- We could use grey water in the toilets – why use drinking grade water to flush waste away. We’re not like cats who’d drink the toilet water after all.
- We could use cleaning products that were less toxic to the environment.
So why don’t we?