How to do better for the Earth as a school: paperless!

With Earth Day today, schools are likely to be thinking of ways to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Every day offers a wealth of opportunities to make small changes that add up to big improvements – from replacing disposable paper towels with reusable ones, to building a classroom compost bin or a rainwater collection barrel.

And of course, every paper document you convert to a digital file also reduces your school’s environmental impact.

In fact, simply replacing paper worksheets and signatures with digital ones can save your institution a lot of money, time and space, while measurably reducing your carbon footprint. With mobile apps like Adobe Acrobat Sign, Adobe Scan, Google Lens and others, adopting these sustainable technologies is easier than ever at the classroom level – and over time, these tools can help teachers and administrators to automate daily workflows, fueling your school’s journey to full-fledged digital transformation.

Let’s take a closer look at how to eliminate paper and how sustainable paperless practices can reduce your school’s environmental impact, while saving money and simplifying daily tasks at your school.


Over the past year, millions of students, teachers, and administrators have transitioned from remote classrooms to in-person schools. And while the pandemic has created many challenges, it has also kick-started the much-needed evolution of schools from paper-centric, document-based processes to paperless ones.

As a result, many physical classrooms and administrative offices are now incorporating technologies such as video conferencing, cloud document sharing and electronic signatures – and they are already reaping the benefits of paperless efficiency.

For example, a 2021 Hotwire survey found that 33% of educational institutions prioritize the process of converting paper forms to digital forms.

Apps like Adobe Scan and Google Lens help streamline this transition, using an iOS or Android smartphone’s camera to convert paper documents into high-resolution PDFs that can be shared and electronically signed.

In fact, many parents and students say they prefer digital documents to paper documents, which are much more likely to get stained, torn or misplaced.

Digital documents can be saved to a secure local hard drive or in the cloud, freeing up storage space for more convenient uses, while reducing a school’s reliance on large binders.

Plus, paperless forms and spreadsheets are much easier to organize and can be searched and retrieved with just a few keystrokes.

This means that instead of spending hours digging through dusty archives, your school’s administrative staff can quickly locate documents when they’re needed, and even automate many time-consuming aspects of administrative work.

In light of these space and time savings, it’s easy to see why 77% of education leaders consider “going paperless” an increasingly important effort.


When it comes to environmental impact, paper forms represent one of the most wasteful paperwork processes within an institution.

Nearly 80% of US education workflows still involve time-consuming, error-prone sheets of paper that must be mailed and returned using envelopes and mail. expensive postage, generating mountains of unnecessary waste every step of the way.

Worse still, “wet” signatures are easy to forge and easier to lose. Even after they arrive in your inbox, checking and processing them often takes weeks or months.

The good news is that paper signatures have been made obsolete by Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES), which are legally binding in most jurisdictions.

Unlike a traditional “wet” signature, a QES is automatically verified by multiple Trusted Service Providers (TSPs), and a document signed with a QES can be collected remotely on any compatible device, such as a smartphone or a laptop.

By combining paperless forms with electronic signatures, many institutions have reduced forms processing times from weeks to minutes, while eliminating the need for unnecessary packaging and shipping, not to mention the pollution created by stationery.

Today’s new generation of document apps make it easy to convert paper forms to digital forms and help save forests by collecting signatures remotely. Adobe Acrobat, for example, builds on Scan’s document conversion capabilities, turning scanned documents into fillable PDF forms that can be pre-populated with the most common responses.

These simple changes save more than just time. Research shows that switching to digital forms processes can also significantly reduce your school’s carbon footprint.

For every 1,000 students who adopt paperless forms and signatures, an institution saves an average of 1,530 gallons of water, 533 pounds of wood, 534 kilowatt hours of energy, 84 pounds of waste, and 1,287 pounds of carbon dioxide.

You can check out Adobe’s handy savings calculator to see exactly how much your school could save right now by going paperless.


While reducing environmental impact is a strong argument for going paperless, moving to digital documents is also the smarter game from a budget standpoint.

Converting paper forms and signatures to electronically signed PDFs can free your school from the high costs of envelopes, postage and freight. Over time, these reduced expenses can add up to huge savings, both environmentally and financially.

Additionally, by replacing bulky filing cabinets with real-time collaboration platforms like the number of cloud platforms available, your school can significantly reduce document storage costs, while freeing up physical space for more productive tasks.

50% of educators cite “easier access to information” as the top reason they are investing in digital transformation – and facilitating automation of back-office workflows, paperless documents and platforms facilitate access, analysis and analysis of information. and leverage the improvement of your institution even more profitably.

Your school will also benefit from savings on energy and water bills, as well as waste disposal expenses, by switching from printing to sustainable paperless processes. In all of these areas, a transition to e-signed PDFs is an investment that pays for itself quickly, and then some.

In fact, every step away from paper represents a step towards a more sustainable future – and a step on your school’s broader journey towards digital transformation. You can start going digital with a few simple changes, like converting documents to paperless.

This makes it easier to stay digital by digitizing document workflows with electronic signature tools. And by automating these workflows, your school can truly go digital, while saving trees and reducing pollution in a variety of measurable ways.

– Article by Chitra Mittha, Director Product Marketing and GTM for Education Institutions WW at Adobe

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