Messiah College Offsets Printing With Planting
“Ecologically viable, economically strong and socially just,” are not just buzz words at Messiah College, insists Dwayne Magee, director of the school’s College Press and Postal Services operation; they have been a way of life at the Christian liberal arts college for more than 40 years.
That’s one reason the Mechanicsburg, Pa., in-plant implemented the PrintReleaf program, which allows organizations to certifiably reduce their environmental impact by automatically planting trees to offset their paper consumption. Messiah now reforests an average of six trees per month into Madagascar, one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems.
“It has now been almost a year since we implemented PrintReleaf and our students are helping us choose our reforestation projects,” Magee says.
PrintReleaf fits right in with Messiah College’s focus on the environment. The school’s Sustainability Department focuses on initiatives around energy, waste, biodiversity and food. Environmental stewardship efforts include an increased use of solar power (the college is home to the nation’s fourth largest solar thermal system), an organic community garden with campus-grown produce, the use of native plants, tending to chickens that provide eggs for sale every week in a campus farm stand, a student-led composting program, demonstration gardens, creation of wildlife habitats and an active restoration of the on-campus Yellow Breeches Creek.
On the printing end, the collection of copier toners and print cartridges are recycled off site. Any savings earned from recycling is used to financially support further sustainability services on campus.
As for PrintReleaf, the seed was planted in 2016, when Magee and other Messiah administrators attended Toshiba’s LEAD conference to learn about technologies available for reducing carbon emissions. There he heard about Toshiba’s partnership with PrintReleaf, which offers cloud-based paper tracking, providing customers with visibility into the number of trees deforested to procure their paper usage. Customers then direct the offset of their forest footprint into PrintReleaf’s certified global reforestation projects. The entire customer experience is automated through PrintReleaf’s Exchange platform, a software that measures paper usage, reverse-calculates to forest impact, and then ‘releafs’ or reforests that paper back into the environment.
Since 2014, PrintReleaf customers have releafed more than 4 billion pages, the equivalent of almost 500,000 trees. Currently, PrintReleaf is reforesting at a rate of nearly 1,300 trees per day.
“I was excited to inform the president of the college that my department was about to implement a program that would render our institution’s print collateral ‘tree neutral,’” says Magee. “Just nine months since having that conversation, the shop was the proud recipient of the Association of College and University Printers Green Service Award.”
In September 2016, Messiah announced its PrintReleaf initiative to its students and employees. The PrintReleaf certified logo is now affixed to all campus printing devices to further promote the program.
“Rarely does a product come along like this one — a product that changes everything,” says Magee.