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Paper Audit in the Computing and Information Services
By Wai Wai Lim and Margaret Priest

In this project, we are auditing paper use in the Computer and Information Services. The main goal for this project is trying to propose simple change to reduce paper use on campus, specifically, for the header sheets. We also want to persuade faculty and staffs to use the recycled paper. We hope to use posters to educate people in reducing header sheets used. We realize that many people don't really care about the wasting of paper, and also, there is at least more than ten thousands and five hundred header sheets are printed every month. This number is horrible!

Our first focus was to reduce header sheets' usage. First, we sent e-mail to Jon Finke, who is the senior systems programmer of the server support services, for the way to count how many header sheets were printed out. He gave us the file which we can read from the unix window. This file (/campus/rpi/~ billing/database/1.1/common/printstat), lists user count, job count and page count. For every user count, job count and page count, it also shows the percentage and total number for every printer on campus. Since there is a header sheets for every job (assuming not many people delete header sheets), we examined the total job count. It was amazing how many header sheets were printed campus wide. We found in statistic that for every 11500 standard pages, 17 pulpwood trees were slaughtered. (http://ecosys.drdr.virginia.edu/paperfac.html) We decided to show people how serious the problem of the header sheets are, and how unnecessary they are.

The command "lpr -h" is the command used to delete header sheets. Through only certain RCS applications (MAPLE, Nedit, RPInfo, & Z-Mail) can the command lpr -h be easily implemented. For the remaining applications the printing jobs would have to be implemented through UNIX, which is not an easy task. And most of the time if students know the command, they rarely use it. We wanted to devise an easy was for students to delete header sheets. We also wanted them to have a choice to print them. The idea of a dialog box that appeared every time printing was chosen in any application. The box would simply ask whether or not header sheets were to be printed. Students could print them when necessary (when printing from another building or during heavy printing traffic), or delete them when there was no need.

To bring this command as well as the devastating statistics to student's attention, we devised the survey. Before we posted out poster and survey, we met Nelson Brownell in VCC for his permission. On the survey, we listed how many tree were used up to the date we start to post our survey form during this semester. We posted this survey in the busier campus labs, such as VCC, CII, JEC, Library. The surveys asked:

1. Do you usually need your header sheets? 70 people say no and 7 say yes.

2. Do you feel they are absolutely necessary during heavy printing traffic? 32 yes, and 43 no. 2 no response.

3. Do you know the command to delete header sheets? 38 say yes, and 36 say no. 3 no response.

4. If you feel that header sheets are unnecessary during periods and/or locations of low printing traffic, would you like an easy way to delete these sheets? 74 yes, 3 no.

5. Would you have objections to a dialog box that appears when you print? 66 no, 11 yes.

We also mentioned the use of "lpr -h" from the poster to remind people to remove the header sheets if possible.

We wanted to get the general opinion of whether or not header sheets were necessary as well as to learn whether the student like the dialog box or not. We found that most people do not need their header sheets, or that they are absolutely necessary to use during heavy traffic. We also found that most people do not know the command for removing the header sheets. From this point, we decided to use poster to educate them the use of this command. And finally, most people did not disapprove the dialog box. From this survey information, we decide to persuade CIS to agree to the dialog box.

We met with Nelson, and discussed the idea of dialog box, and he asked us to write a proposal, so that he will forward that to SSS for us. Below is our proposal which we sent to Nelson Brownell:

Nelson Brown and SSS Staff,

We would like to propose a solution to reduce the number of header sheets printed unnecessarily. We believe most people will agree that there are some times (residence halls, slow printing traffic etc.) when header sheets are not needed. In fact, they are an unnecessary use of the student's and institution's money, as well as electricity, paper ink, time etc. The command lpr -h unfortunately is either not well known or not easily executed through all applications. Education through posters is being attempted but the results will not substantially reduce the header sheet usage.

With the exception of the vcclw and off campus printers, we propose this solution: whenever an individual chooses to print a job on campus, a dialog box will appear printing begins, simply asking whether or not a header sheet should be printed. The individual then has the choice.

We have a student in his junior year who is a computer science major. He would like to work with EcoLogic via work study. If this dialog box sounds feasible, or if there is another possibility, this student is more than willing to work with your staff.

Thank You

Wai Wai Lim

Margaret Priest

We trusted that he forwarded this e-mail. And we never get response from them, nor did we attempt to make contact.

From this point on, we planned to post the poster in the dorm area to further enforce using the command. We would then list the application the command could be easily executed, and suggest the idea of having a user friendly dialog box, which could be use of all application. We could also put in the statistic of how many trees were used for that amount of paper This would hopefully encourage student to use the command. However, due to lack of time, we were unable to work on the poster, nor continually meet with Nelson to persuade a dialog box. And we also have no time to persuade usage of recycled paper in the printer and the photocopier. If we have more time, we would make sure we receive their response and implemented the dialog box. We received the interesting message concerning the recycling policy of RPI. Someone witnessed the member of the cleaning staff disposing the recycled paper in the trash cans together. Apparently, RPI did not instruct the staff to treat the recycle people differently from the trash. If the cleaning staff member don't separate out the recycled paper, what's the point of having a recycling bin? We don't know if this apply to all of the cleaning staffs, but it is alarming to know that this happened. We think something should be said or done. If not, all people in our campus community's effort have been wasted.

From this project, we learned that everybody knows this problem, but no one really take a step ahead. We know that in order to reduce the paper used, and improving recycling paper. It would take lots of step to accomplish this, and a lot of negotiating with the staffs to convince them to spend focus and time on this. It would be possible that they are reluctant to do that because they want to make money from that.

If some other people want to take our work a step further, the first thing they should do is to persist Nelson Brownell for giving a permission of the dialog box. And making a dialog box is not a burden for SSS. The main thing they need to do is to have more communication with the staffs of CIS, discuss this issue to them, and persist them to put time. Secondly, compile concrete evidence supporting the use of recycled paper does not jam printer and photocopier. And encourage people to use recycled paper when they don't have to use the prettier white paper.

Steve Davis daviss@rpi.edu
(Greening Coordinator)
Webmaster: devrid@rpi.edu

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