According to an analysis done by The Paperless Project, 68 million trees are used to make paper and paper products in the United States every year. This analysis also finds that the global consumption of paper has increased by 400% in the past 40 years. Additionally, The Paperless Project states that the pulp and paper industry is the fourth largest industrial user of energy. It’s time that we embrace the many powerful and efficient digital tools to go paperless and save money, energy, time, and our environment.
Here are 10 great benefits of leaving paper and going digital:
- Reduced paper costs
- Reduced toner/ink and printer maintenance costs
- Less electricity costs from running printers and copiers
- Faster, more engaging, and more collaborative dissemination of information through digital media
- Easier and quicker access to and searching of digital documents
- Less physical space needed to store paper documents
- More secure storage of digital documents
- Less time lost to printing and copying documents
- People learning and mastering digital tools of communication
- More environmentally-friendly
Also, you’ll have fewer paper cuts, and those are the worst!
Here are five free digital tools that schools can use to go paperless:
G Suite Apps & Google Classroom
If your school is a Google school, then these are a given. Within G Suite, staff and students can create all sorts of digital documents and then share, collaborate, edit, assess, organize, and archive them. Setting up shared folders and Team Drives is also a great way to spread information. The Save to Google Drive Chrome Extension is a valuable tool to save almost anything you find on the Internet directly to your Google Drive in one click to make the curation of digital resources quick and easy.
Other than Google Drive and its associated apps, Google Classroom is almost a one-stop-shop in and of itself to have a paperless classroom. Within Google Classroom, teachers can post announcements, reminders, polls, quizzes, assignments, as well as direct links to documents. Teachers can also collect assignments submitted by students, provide feedback, and send it back to students. Teachers can keep parents in the loop by inviting them to their Google Classroom as well. To instantly share documents or a website to students in class on their Chromebooks, teachers can use the Share to Google Classroom Chrome Extension.
Teachers, students, and other school staff can use Blogger and/or Google Sites to share information with parents or anyone else in the school community. Blogger and Google Sites are also good to use for displaying student work, activities, and events.
Here are excellent resources on getting the most out of the G Suite apps and Google Classroom:
You can use a copier’s Scan to PDF feature or use a standalone scanner to convert all your paper documents into PDF files. Using a copier to do this is the easiest and quickest way since you can load several pages into the feeder at once. If you don’t have a copier or a scanner, you can use your smartphone. I recommend the CamScanner app, which will let you take a photo of any document, edit it (if you want), and convert it into a PDF.
Print Friendly Chrome Extension
This useful Chrome extension lets you remove text, images, and whole pages from things you find on the Internet, which will help you save toner and paper if you really do need to print something. CleanPrint also has features to convert a webpage or online article into a PDF and/or email it. To learn more about how to make the most of Print Friendly, check out my article about it. Download CleanPrint here.
Remind is an app to help improve communication between teachers, students, and parents. With Remind, teachers can send text messages, voice clips, photos, PDFs, and more directly to students’ and parents’ smartphones. Remind has earned the FERPA and COPPA privacy badges from iKeepSafe.
Here’s a video about Remind:
Padlet is an online application to create, share, and collaborate on digital bulletin boards. Users can access Padlet on a smartphone, tablet, or computer to post almost anything to a Padlet board, such as photos, documents, videos, music, Google files, and more. Users can also comment on them to give feedback, suggest ideas, and ask questions. Padlet is a great way to share and curate information and resources.
Here's a video about Padlet: