Back to School. Bring the Paper.

Last month 56.6 million K-12 children went back to school in the U.S. Guiding them on their educational journey will be 3.7 million full-time teachers. Between worksheets, quizzes, art projects, notes, reports, calendars, et. al., a lot of paper is being leveraged by learners.

The kids will use 45.5 million reams of copy paper this 2008 – 2019 school year.

The research data on paper consumption by schools are littered with inputs from Green activists advocating paperless educational systems. Which will, of course, happen as soon as we transition to paperless restrooms. One reason is that our brains are wired to learn from paper – see The Provocative Nature of Print & Paper and Does Print Make You Smarter? to learn more about the deeper neurological connections that come from paper vs. a computer screen.

“ … we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,”

Anne Mangen, Norway’s Stavanger University

Paper is indeed well-entrenched in the learning process, which begs the question of how much paper will our children use to learn this year? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 138,000 K-12 schools in the U.S., and based on some reasonable extrapolation of numbers generated by people who think paper is bad, but never used paper to learn statistics, we’re going to peg consumption per school at approximately 175,000 sheets of copy paper per year.

How Much Paper Is That?

Well, no matter how you cut it, (sorry …) that is a lot of paper.

  • 22.75 billion sheets of paper
  • 45.5 million reams of paper
  • 4.55 million cartons of paper

Over 50% of the k-8 schools in the United States participate in the Box Tops for Education program.

It is also enough paper to ensure that programs like Box Tops for Education are very successful fundraising avenues for schools. Last year U.S. K-8 schools earned over $41 million dollars from the program. Since 2011, America’s schools have earned nearly $11 million through the purchase of Boise Paper products. Many use the program as a way to help fund additional supplies.

So, the next time your child comes home with a bunch of papers stuffed in a backpack for you to save forever, just reflect on how much paper they could really have brought home! Have a great school year everyone.