At work with the Sustainability Network: Behind-the-scenes of Onesies production and printing reduction

The Sustainability Network brings together students from a variety of departments and organizations working on sustainability-related projects from around campus. You can get in touch with the network with your ideas or questions by emailing [email protected] or [email protected], or coming to our next meeting at noon on Sunday, April 19 in the Harmon Room. This week’s interview is with Maggie Panetta, a sustainability worker from the library.

TMW: What brings you to work with the Sustainability Network?

MP: Work study as a library office aide gave me the opportunity to be the library sustainability student worker.

How did you get involved in sustainability projects at Macalester?

I was encouraged to go to Sustainability Student Networking meetings on behalf of the Library and the Print Reduction Committee. As a first-year, I was curious about the different orgs that focus on sustainability projects. The Sustainability Student Network is what brings them all together.

What is the project you’re working on that you’re most excited about?

This semester, I worked on a grant proposal for setting up a new, uniform way to manage the gathering and production of Onesies. You may remember that Onesies are given to every first year, but they’re also available to all students on campus. All one-sided paper in the library is used for Onesies, but much of this paper goes in regular recycling instead of coming back to campus. By next fall, Onesies and their paper collection bins will have been completely redesigned and more widely distributed across campus: in department printers, the dorms’ printers and everywhere else where printing is available on campus. The Onesies project was developed in hopes that more Onesies can be produced, in various sizes, and paper can stay in circulation on campus in a sustainable way.

What difficulties have you faced in trying to make Macalester a more sustainable school?

For me, collecting paper and watching the print stats reminds me that there is so much more we need to do to reduce paper waste across campus. Even when many articles and assignments are digitalized, it’s hard to remind students that every article printed is a privilege we have on campus that we should not be overstepped.

How does the work you’re doing relate to Macalester’s larger sustainability goals?

Reducing paper waste on campus is a vital part of becoming waste free by 2020! All college campuses experience problems with remaining sustainable regarding paper waste, and we hope to act appropriately about how we can keep reducing printing on campus year to year. My involvement in the Sustainability Network and oversight of library sustainability allows me to encourage people to consider how even in the building with arguably the most paper, we can continue to reduce paper waste in a unique way.

Why do you do the work that you do? Why do you think this type of work is important?

I do the work I do because it’s important to consider how each building on campus affects our community as a sustainable environment differently. The library is a great resource, but many library’s experience high amounts of paper waste that can be reduced without charging students for printing, a luxury we have at Mac.

What do you hope for the future of sustainability at Macalester?

I hope to continue to establish better ways to keep paper waste in circulation on campus! Although I am an advocate for digitizing and reducing paper usage in the classroom, I understand that many students feel that the interaction with a printed reading is different than that on a computer screen. I know that feeling well, but hope we can continue to come up with unique ways to reduce printing in a manageable, comfortable way for students.