BY: MAX HELLER AND CARRIE GRANGER
Teachers at Shen returning from winter break in 2017 had a surprise waiting for them on their computers. That surprise is known as PaperCut and it’s a part of an initiative that’s meant to help reduce Shen’s environmental impact.
According to the website papercut.com, “PaperCut provides a wide range of options for managing and accepting user payments. These range from simple manual processes where a user’s balance is updated by office staff when they make a payment, to fully automated credit card payment systems.”
The company PaperCut created a software system in 1998 used for tracking paper usage. The company’s goal is to help people become more environmentally aware of the carbon footprint they make by tracking their paper usage.
The idea came from one of the CEOs of the company while he had a job at a high school. Future CEO Chris Dance had the idea of monitoring the usage of paper when he saw an overflowing recycling bin.
While this may sound alarming for teachers, according to Lauren Buttimer, an English teacher, “There’s no limit for teachers or charge to them for printing, but instead it shows a spreadsheet showing their environmental impact, how many trees they have killed, and things like that.”
The important thing to remember is that while PaperCut tracks what teachers send to the printers from their computer (or from their account on any computer), it does not track if they make dozens of copies of that sheet.
For Shen, Papercut is a part of a new initiative being taken on by the district to try to get teachers and the school in general to be more mindful of the energy and resources they use. Teachers received an email saying that they should be turning off their computers, printers, projectors and other electronics when they leave.
But how much energy is actually being saved? According to Kiera Butler, writing for motherjones.com, computers barely use any energy when they are in standby (sleep mode), so it is generally more important to have your computer set to enter a power saving mode than actually shutting it down at the end of the day.
PaperCut appears to be the main aspect of the initiative. Teachers here at Shen seem to have more realistic opinions about it.
Math teacher Tim Conley said, “I think it’s a good idea, but I still have to print out all my sheets, they can’t stop teachers from doing their jobs.”
Lauren Buttimer, an English teacher, said something similar. “Sometimes we print out packets, or if we don’t have enough books we have to photocopy a chapter for kids… none of that is going to change.”
Buttimer also said, “I understand the goal, I just think there are better avenues for the district to cut down.”
Janessa Bricker contributed to this report.