Last year, 11,040,632 sheets of paper were printed
in the libraries and OIT clusters.
What would this look like?
If stretched end-to-end, these pages would stretch for 10,120,579 feet, which is 1,917 miles (3085 km). This distance is nearly three-quarters the width of the United States.
Bill Burke ’91 holds Princeton’s 1-mile indoor track record. He can run a mile in 3 minutes and 58.7 seconds. If he could run continuously at that pace, it would take him more than five days to run the entire length of printed paper.
A ream of paper sits two inches tall and contains 500 sheets of paper. This much paper would be 3,680 feet tall when stacked.
By comparison, the tallest structures in the world are only about 2,000 feet tall. If we took these printouts and split them into 17 stacks, each stack would still be taller than Fine Tower.
We could cover 165 acres with these printouts. It would take us less than two years to cover Lake Carnegie in paper. In two more years, the entire campus could be covered.
How did these sheets impact
The environmental impact of this much printing is mostly due to the costs of producing the paper, in proportion to the weight of the paper produced. Four-hundred reams of paper weigh one ton, and each ream contains 500 sheets. Last year, in the libraries and clusters, our printouts weighed 55 tons, or more than 6 average African male elephants.
If we constrain ourselves to just this printed paper (see below for all paper used by the university), the manufacturing process required 591,889.95 kiloWatt-hours of energy. That's enough energy to power a standard 100W incandescent light bulb for more than 675 years.
Manufacturing paper also creates waste waters when the mashed wet pulp is dried into fresh sheets. Our printouts produced more than one million gallons of waste water, about as much water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Finally, producing this paper released 302,480.4 pounds of greenhouse gases. Those gases weigh 17 times the entire football team.
If Princeton did not use 100% post-consumer waste paper for this printing, 1,276 trees would have been harvested. One tree becomes 8,333 sheets of virgin copy paper (0% PCW). In terms of weight, 159.48 tons of wood were saved by using 100% PCW paper.
But this was only 20% of all University paper needs!
During 2007-2008, the University purchased a total of 53,279,500 sheets of paper — more than enough to blanket the entire campus, build 85 stacks taller than Fine Hall, or encircle the Earth every three years. Only 68% of that total was 100% PCW recylced paper. The rest, used for stationary, signs, posters, and the like also required trees to be chopped down.
Can our community truly afford to use that much paper every year? You do the math.