Our group suggests the following recommendations to help the Imprint system become more environmentally sustainable.

1. Reduce Printing By At Least 25 Per Cent
Each week, 3 800 Imprint newspapers are left undelivered. We recommend a reduction by 25%, or 3000 copies, as the Imprint relies heavily on national advertisers for their financial support These advertisers will only advertise in a student newspaper if a certain student-to-paper ratio is achieved and maintained. Reducing printing by 25% is already a dramatic change but we feel that this number is more reasonable than reducing by the total amount found to be in excess, 32% or 3 800 copies.

According to our survey, 96% of University of Waterloo students read the Imprint; and 81% read it at least once every two weeks. Therefore, readership was found to be high. Although approximately 7 000 Imprint newspapers were delivered on-campus, not all were used because a large number of papers were being read more than once by different people. Of those who read the Imprint, it was determined that 35% exclusively read a previously used copy. Advertisers should be informed of this. The Imprint staff should ask advertisers to pay the same price for their ads despite a 25% reduction in printing because the number of papers being printed does not reflect the number of papers being read.

2. Sponsorship
A book entitled The Canadian Directory to Foundations, which is on reserve in any public library, lists all the organizations which provide funding for certain causes such as environmental initiatives. If advertisers withdraw their financial support from the Imprint once a reduction in printing is made, the Imprint should look for sponsors in this book.

3. Encouraging Reusing and Recycling
Through advertisement in the Imprint, readers should be encouraged to return their newspaper to an Imprint receptacle or to neatly place their paper on a pile of other Imprints so custodial staff will not dispose of them. This reuse will encourage less papers to be printed since more papers will be shared with other readers. Returning the papers to drop-off points will also ensure that all Imprints will be taken to the recycling depot by Imprint distributors each Friday. Weekly articles should also be written about the Imprint's continuing efforts to be more environmentally sustainable to inform readers and encourage sustainable practices.

4. Accountability
Contrary to popular belief, the Imprint is not accountable to the Federation of Students. Apparently, they are accountable to the entire student body (Tigert-Dumas, 1995). However, the concerns of individual students can easily be ignored if no regulating body represents their ideas and presents them to the Imprint staff on their behalf. To ensure that our recommendations and other people's concerns are addressed, we suggest that the Imprint be accountable to the Federation of Students -- a governing body which exists to represent University of Waterloo students.

5. Perform In-Depth Study
The Imprint should perform an in-depth study to determine the exact number of newspapers required in each location both on- and off-campus, and consequently the number of papers that should be printed. This may be done by providing each on- and off-campus location with a subscription form asking how many Imprints they require. Within each building, high usage/traffic areas must be determined to find the most strategic Imprint drop-off locations.

6. Encourage Imprint Readership On The Internet
To reduce the number of newspapers that are printed, greater awareness of the Imprint's availability on the Internet should be provided through increased advertising of this fact.

7. Better Communication
There should be better communication between the Imprint staff and people on- and off-campus. For example, Dennis Mustin of Plant Operations did not know that the Imprint staff and not the custodians were responsible for collecting and disposing of unused Imprints. This resulted in more Imprints being thrown away by custodians as opposed to being recycled by Imprint distributors. A policy of recycling before putting in garbage should be adopted. Better communication would also ensure that off-campus complaints are addressed.


By investigating the distribution of the Imprint to various buildings on campus and the disposal habits of readers, we achieved a greater understanding of the dynamics of the Imprint system. Overall, the Imprint failed to meet three of our four set criteria for sustainability. Although many readers either recycled or reused the paper, by looking at the non-sustainable disposal methods used by the custodial staff, we discovered that the Imprint system did not reflect a closed-loop system. As well, the discovery of the 3 800 excess papers not even being distributed demonstrated that the number of papers printed did not reflect the actual number of readers. Therefore, waste was not being reduced at the source. Since the paper was printed in Grimsby, Ontario, the Imprint system did not support the local economy and required more fossil fuels for delivery in Waterloo. However, the materials used to print the paper by CanWeb were found to be environmentally sound as they did meet the accepted standard for recycled content and used non-toxic inks.

For the University of Waterloo campus to become a more sustainable campus, it is essential that the system of the Imprint be re-evaluated and changed. We believe that this can be accomplished by implementing the recommendations made by our group. We do realize however, that the implementation of our recommendations will require time and that further studies need to be conducted.


Abbey, David S. and Diane Abbey-Livingston. Enjoying Research? A How-To Manual on Needs Assessment. Government of Ontario: Toronto 1982.

Atwal, Sandy, Imprint Editor-in-Chief, March 7, 1995.

Connolly, Tom, Lead Hand of ES Custodial Staff, University of Waterloo, March, 1995.

Cook, Patti, Waste Management Coordinator, University of Waterloo, 1995.

Good, Ryan et al. Paper Consumption at UW. University of Waterloo: WatGreen, 1994.

Kay, James, ERS 285 Course Administrator, February 27, 1995.

Lankton, Steve, CanWeb, 1995.

Mustin, Dennis, Plant Operations, University of Waterloo, March 1995.

Schumm, M., Registrar's Office, 1995.

Smith, Christine, ERS 285 Teaching Assistant, 1995.

Tigert-Dumas, Laurie, Imprint Advertising Sales/Production, March 1995.

Zavitz, Jeff, Imprint Distributor, March 3, 1995.

APPENDIX A - Survey of Imprint Use and Disposal Habits


Please note that the total number distributed adds up to approximately 8,200 copies, which leaves about 3,800 copies unaccounted for.