Less is More

RC Sections competed in a weeklong double-sided printing competition in early March, just after MBA IT Support Services upgraded all Spangler, Aldrich, and Baker printers to enable double-siding. The competition was organized by Green Living Rep Evelyne White (NJ) and the Green Living Section Reps. Section C prevailed in the competition, with their case write-ups earning them over 700 points for the week.

The second RC Section Sustainability Competition was due to be a challenging one. With just two public printers having duplex capacity, seeing which section would print the most case write-ups double-sided was sure to be daunting. That was, until MBA IT Support Services came through with spooky timing.

A few short weeks prior to the launch of the competition, a mysterious post popped up on the myHBS portal. It was an announcement about expanded double-siding capabilities along with instructions for how to set personal computers up to double-side. The post was quite a pleasant surprise. We knew HBS was working to phase out non-duplexing units, but we didn’t dream it would all happen at once – especially not in time for our competition!

Green Living Rep Evelyne White (NJ) asked David Helen of MBA IT Support Services about the sudden change: “We started piloting duplex printing about a year ago. It [was] initially deployed on two of our ten systems so that we could see how it held up (printer jams were a particular concern). We then added duplex units to the remaining 8 printers… this change was driven in part by student demand and our desire to reduce waste on campus.” The upgrade was completed on ten HP 8150 printers with 2,000 sheet capacity. Each duplex unit required a $250 investment, but with the reams of paper that will now go unordered, these units will pay for themselves in no time.

With the hardware in place, Evelyne organized the Green Living Section Reps to share the information about setting up computers to double-side with their peers. For one week, RCs were awarded 1 point each for printing write-ups double-sided, printing 2 pages per sheet, and adjusting margins to fit write-ups on a single sheet.ÿ Those who don’t write up cases simply had to show that they set their computer up to double-side in Spangler, Aldrich and Baker for 3 points per day.

The personal cost-savings for double-siding certainly didn’t hurt the competition. “The economics are pretty attractive – if printed two-to-one and double-sided, a 4-page print-out that used to cost 40 cents now runs you 15 cents,” White pointed out. The fact that saving money coincided with going green made for a successful competition, as exemplified by Erin Teague, an RC in J: “This whole green initiative has seriously changed my behavior.ÿ Every write-up, every class, every day is double-sided and 2 to a page.”

Less paper is really more. More money in your pocket, more good for the environment. The average total points for the competition was 248 points per section, for the week. In the end, Section C took the cake with an impressive 719 points. Section C also reigned in the reusable water bottle competition earlier this semester. For more information about setting up your computer to double-side, email Evelyne White at ewhite@mba2010.hbs.edu.

Author’s Biography
Krystal Noiseux is the Manager of HBS’s Green Living Program.