The year end paper friend

Each year, schools waste enough exercise books to make a stack 11 times the height of Mount Everest.

I have an idea to stop that happening. I call it “The Year End Paper Friend”.

This waste happens because, at the end of every school year, each student is given all their exercise books to take home. And there they sit, gathering dust.

In each of my exercise books, on average, 15 pages are left blank. I’ve checked and it’s the same for all my classmates. And it will be the same for every pupil, for every subject, for every year in every school in the country.

Looking at Government statistics, there are nine million and thirty one pupils in the UK.

If each student across the UK studies seven subjects, each one needing its own exercise book, each with 15 wasted pages, that’s 105 pages of waste, per pupil, per school year.

That all adds up to a total of 945,003,255 wasted pieces of paper each school year in the UK – Or nearly 19 million wasted exercise books.

That would make a pile of exercise books nearly 96,390 metres tall – about eleven times taller than Mount Everest.

But we can stop all of this waste with The Year-end Paper Friend, a simple and cheap idea that every pupil can get involved with.

All that’s needed is a simple sticker, placed in each exercise book, marking the point where learning for that year ends. The sticker would take up a double-page spread, so as to make an unmistakable marker. Each child gets involved by completing empty boxes within the sticker, answering questions about what they loved most last year and what the are looking forward to in the coming year.

Then, when the next academic year begins, instead of starting with new exercise books, pupils simply carry on using the same exercise books from where they left off the previous year, but starting after the point where they placed their sticker in each book.

For the small cost of seven stickers for each pupil, we could save 19 million exercise books, adding up to a value of around £11.4 million. An even cheaper way would be to create a stamp – but where’s the fun in that?!

To encourage schools to feel pride in playing their part, we could also award certificates for them to place in their reception areas and help parents to understand all the good the idea is doing for the environment.

I hope you like my idea! Thanks for this opportunity to share it.