[GRRN] Fw: Campus Paper Procurement Campaign

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Wed, 27 Oct 1999 21:50:20 -0400

[Forwarded from Beth F. <zmercuryz@hotmail.com>. SESC is
a North Carolina student initiative. Contact info at end.]

"Putting Clear-Cut Solutions on Paper"
Students for Environmentally Sustainable Campuses
Written By: PJ Disclafani, Linda Chupowski, and Beth Fogleman

In response to similar campaigns at both the University of Georgia and
University of Virginia, and inspiration from the SEAC 1998 SE conference,
the Paper Procurement Campaign for University of North Carolina system
universities began almost simultaneously at UNC-Asheville, UNC-Chapel Hill
and Appalachian State University. In view of the current threats to our
ecosystems and the importance of preserving our natural resources for
generations to come, we along with five other state universities have been
working to reform the "paper practices", if you will, of the 16 UNC

As a well-respected university system and a large consumer of paper, we
propose that the University of North Carolina system schools take a
leading role in environmentally responsible and sustainable paper
practices. This includes a fully-integrated, cost-effective plan to
significantly increase the post-consumer recycled content of paper
currently purchased by the university, supporting the use of non-chlorine
bleaching processes, an overall reduction in the amount of paper used, and
increased availability of paper recycling on campus.

In February, representatives from eight of the UNC system schools met and
formed Students for Environmentally Sustainable Campuses (SESC), and in so
doing formally unified to green the University of North Carolina system.
The current focus of this commitment is the Paper Procurement Campaign,
but in the future we envision this coalition reshaping the university
system by making environmentally conscious changes to all aspects of our
schools (for example, one issue we will likely address is energy
consumption). But for now, paper is our focus.

As state agencies, the UNC schools must purchase paper products from the
NC State Term Contract. Currently, as governmental entities, the UNC
schools are bound by law to apply 50% of their paper budgets toward
recycled paper products. By working directly with state politicians, SESC
has helped to amend Governor Hunt's Executive Order #8 to mandate that all
state agencies spend 100% of their budgets on recycled products by 2002.
The Executive Order #8 is a document outlining university sustainability
practices. During fiscal year 1996-1997, not all schools met the 50%
legal requirement. We will work toward bringing all schools into
compliance with governmental directives.

Following a string of victories, in late March we made one final push: the
paper contract was about to open for bids, but the recycled papers were
not in the proposal. We waged an email campaign, which an AP newspaper
article described in the following manner: "Todays student activists have
found a modern successor to the sit-in the log-on." Four hours into the
email campaign, over 100 individuals had visited our web page and sent the
form letter to the NC Purchase and Contract division. Exasperated, the
purchasing officials acquiesced and added our products to the bid listing.

Effective in July, UNC schools will be able to buy 100% and 50%
post-consumer recycled content, process chlorine-free office paper.
Formerly, there were only virgin and 20% post-consumer stocks available.
This success was the result of over a year of researching all aspects of
the campaign, networking with other students and state officials, and
effective and persuasive communication. As we take a break to cheer and
pat ourselves on the backs, we know we must soon prepare for phase two of
our campaign. This fall, our task will be to convince departments to but
the new product, devise ways to reduce paper use, and improve university
recycling programs.

Another result of work in Chapel Hill has convinced the UNC-CH
administration to establish a Sustainability Coalition of faculty, staff
and students.

Universities are the perfect place to wage a "paper campaign." As large
users of paper, they can make a real difference by changing to more
sustainable practices and creating markets for more sustainable products.
Additionally, as respected educational institutions, they set examples for
the rest of society and are also in a position to teach tomorrows leaders
to be environmentally responsible. If you are interested in learning more
about what we did and how you can do it too, please write to us at
s_e_s_c@yahoo.com and visit our website at