You probably know how ePrint works, but did you know that ePrint users printed the equivalent of 2,100 trees last year?

That’s 170,000 pounds of paper, and 34,000 reams printed.

Think it’s time for a change? So do we.

Right now, standard black and white printing costs $0.02 a sheet, and undergraduates receive a $32 quota per semester, which can then be refilled on the OIT website. This allotment is an arbitrary representation of a sheet quota—the dollar value does not come from any student fees or directly from tuition, but rather serves as a way to track our printing.

We’re proposing that undergraduate students continue to receive a $32 semester allotment with an additional refill of $8. To better align the cost per sheet with the true cost of printing, we also suggest that the cost per sheet be changed from $0.02 to $0.04.

Four cents is a number OIT identifies as a closer estimate of the cost of printing, although the real cost is likely higher. This means that, per semester, students can print up to one thousand sheets for free, which is two thousand pages if you print double-sided. Additional printing would be charged directly to FLEX accounts, which is the current policy if students exceed their quotas without refilling them first. Even with the new cost of $0.04 per sheet, Duke would not recoup the total costs of student printing. Bringing the cost per sheet closer in line with the true costs could, in the long run, free up funding for other green printing initiatives like recycled paper and energy-efficient technologies.

This simple change could have big environmental impacts, without affecting the majority of students. Only 20 percent of undergraduates printed over this new cap last year, and the median overage was only 300 sheets per semester, a nominal cost of $12.

While 80 percent of students would not be impacted, these changes to the ePrint quota system would reduce Duke’s role in the overconsumption of trees and the energy and water used in the production of paper.

Duke is known as a leader in environmental sustainability, but right now our printing system is an anomaly. The proposed $0.04 per sheet is still significantly lower than the average of $0.094 charged by the other US News Top 10 national universities. More specifically, five of these schools have quotas, with an average of just over 650 sheets per semester, well below our proposal of 1000 sheets.

Our goal is to encourage students to be active in the environmental sustainability movement, through simple behavioral changes like printing less. The change is not meant to be a burden for anyone, so we are working with OIT to develop an exemption for students with demonstrated financial or medical need.

We presented the proposal on April 2 at the Duke Student Government general body meeting. On Wednesday, April 9, DSG will be voting on a resolution of our proposal. The meeting starts at 8 p.m. in Schiciano Auditorium A in CIEMAS. Please come listen if you’re interested in the specifics of the proposal and its potential impacts.

This proposal has been reviewed by Provost Peter Lange and various other groups, including Duke Libraries and OIT. In the coming weeks, we will host an open question and answer session with representatives from Sustainable Duke, Duke Libraries and OIT for you to ask questions and voice any concerns you may have. We hope these changes will be implemented in Fall 2014.

Here at Duke, we’re all committed to being conscious global leaders. With your support, we can make sure that we all bleed blue and live green.

Leah Catotti is a Trinity junior. David Clancy is a Trinity sophomore. Fareed Khan is a Master of Management Studies candidate at the Fuqua School of Business.