By Kara Rayburn, WW Product Marketing Manager, Xerox Enterprise Business Group

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a 1st grade class at a local elementary school about two topics that don’t always complement each other… technology and the environment.

In a world of Barney and Dora, children these days have a good understanding of why it is important to practice the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). The students already had a good understanding of Earth Month, and volunteered several excellent ideas showing what they do to care for the earth.

  • “Fix things rather than buy a new thing.”
  • “Walk to school, or ride your bike!”
  • “Pick up trash.”

My favorite, however, was “Clean your room.” At first thought, I found it to be an odd suggestion. However, after further discussion I realized what he meant was that if you have a clean room, then you can find your toys, shoes, etc. when you need them. Then, you won’t have to buy new items to replace the things you can’t find. That struck me as a unique way to look at a problem from a different angle. This was a great lead in to talk about how technology can be done differently – and how it can be friendlier to the environment.First grade students holding seed paper printed on a Xerox ColorQube MFP

In order to show the class one example of how technology can work with nature, we printed the ideas they came up with on sheets of seeded paper through a ColorQube MFP. Seed paper is just what it sounds like – sheets of paper with non-invasive wildflower seeds embedded into it.  Not only were the seeds actually in the paper, they were preserved during the printing process by the solid ink technology.

The class delighted at the sight of a solid ink stick.  Most thought it looked like a large crayon, and did not seem at all surprised that there was little more to the printing process than marking the “crayon” on the page.  Each child was given their own sheet of paper and took the page home to see the flowers grow from their printed ideas.

I was expecting that a discussion with 1st graders about technology and the environment would be difficult. But children this young have open minds and they responded positively to the idea of finding a different way to get something done. After seeing a true example of how technology can work with the environment, I hope the knowledge might have a lasting impact so they grow up to continue responsible actions that are good for the environment in the future.

And hopefully they will have cleaner rooms as well.