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“Under-the-door” canvassing leads to paper waste

While student organizers must be lauded for the effort they put into advertising all kinds of worthy causes, clubs, and events on and around campus, the practice of “under-the-door” canvassing – in which a flier is printed for every dorm room on campus and then delivered accordingly – deserves to be phased out.

From an environmental standpoint, it is difficult to justify the practice of room canvassing. Huge amounts of paper must be used if every dorm room on campus is going to receive a flyer, even if the fliers are printed four or eight to a page. Often the fliers are printed on colored paper, which is difficult to recycle; the color must be bleached out before it can be processed into new paper. Of course, there is also the significant chance that the paper will not be recycled at all. Though the blue recycling bins in each room effectively eliminate any excuse a student might have for throwing away recyclables, it is inevitable that a significant portion of those fliers will end up in the garbage. When several groups are running canvassing campaigns simultaneously, those little pieces of paper add up to a lot of waste.

Also, oftentimes the event or cause being advertised is not of general interest to all students, and while every group deserves to have its voice heard, advertising to every last resident seems a bit like shouting into the void.

Perhaps the best alternative to dorm canvassing hasn’t been introduced yet. Student e-mails often go unread; Facebook e-vites grab attention but exclude those who don’t have a profile. More careful paper canvassing of public spaces may be the best solution, but too often those fliers end up trampled into corners and gutters several months after the event they advertised has passed.

If Mills prides itself on its progressiveness, then student organizers need to actively come up with a more progressive way to get the word out – one that does not create waste.