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Paper and books

Students and schools use a lot of paper, even as we strive to be more paper-conscious and do more activities online.

Large pile of used paper with computer monitor on top


Paper manufacturing uses natural resources like fibre from trees and is very water-intensive. The more paper we use, the more resources we use. Much of what we use can be recycled and used again.

Here are some ways to reduce the amount and impact of the paper you use and throw out.

  • Re-use your own paper. Write or print on both sides of the paper or use it for artwork or scrap paper. If last year's notebooks are largely unused, rip out the used pages and give the book a new life, or remove the empty pages and turn them into a 'notepad' for yourself.
  • Buy recycled paper and notebooks. They're easy to find and there's a wide range available. The percentage of recycled content can vary from 10 to 100%. Look out for items that contain a high percentage of recycled fibre or contain fibre from sustainably managed sources, such as plantations or sustainably managed native forests. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products and logo.
  • Recycle your paper and cardboard, either at home or at school. Sending paper to landfill is a lost resource. As it decomposes it produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. In Australia, our municipal waste receives around 2 million tonnes of paper a year, enough to fill 100,000 semi-trailers.
  • Only print out from your computer when you really need to. Proof work electronically before you print. Many schools now encourage students to submit homework and assignments electronically rather than on paper.
  • Find out if your school has a second-hand textbook scheme. You may be able to source books for English texts in second-hand bookshops. Look after books so they can be used in later years or for siblings. Covering books in paper will help keep them in good condition.