Desktop Addendum – AASHE

Ditching Desktop Printers: A Behavior Change Guide to Cutting Paper Use, Energy Consumption, and Costs

Manufacturing paper contributes to multiple environmental problems, such as air pollution, deforestation, habitat fragmentation, excessive waste production, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to human rights abuses. Surprisingly, the widespread implementation of electronic communication has not led to an overall decrease in paper use. And though many higher education institutions across the country have made commitments to sustainability, zero waste, and climate neutrality, many still purchase and use large amounts of paper, ink, and individual desktop printers. 

In our previous campus paper reduction work, Turning the Page: A Behavior Change Toolkit for Reducing Paper Use, we found that replacing desktop printers with a shared multi-function printer (MFP) is one of the most impactful ways campuses can reduce paper use. Moving to shared printers generates a suite of additional benefits, including increased security, reduced demand on IT staff time, and cost savings on paper, energy, and ink/toner. 

With funding from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, we again partnered with AASHE and a new cohort of campuses. We worked with campuses by training them on the A to Zs of behavior change at a kickoff meeting and through our monthly engagements, and provided coaching through every step of their campaigns; we helped draft, code, analyze and interpret determinants analyses, and generate intervention plans based on these results. 

Our goals were to help campuses succeed at shifting from the use of desktop printers to MFPs and also to collect research findings on barriers from across campuses with varying attributes to share with others to aid their future efforts. Using the results from determinants analyses administered to staff and faculty across six higher education institutions, we created Ditching Desktop Printers: A Behavior Change Guide to Cutting Paper Use, Energy Consumption, and Costs. This report examines the barriers to and motivators for making the switch to MFPs. It provides intervention ideas informed by these survey results as well as from our experience working with the Turning the Page cohort and on a separate project with UC Berkeley. The goal of this guide is to empower campus sustainability officers to develop their own behavior change campaigns to achieve their sustainability goals.




  • Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Georgia College & State University
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

AASHE empowers higher education faculty, administrators, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE works with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges.