No Paper Day

Students research the effects of paper use, identify ways to conserve paper, and sponsor a No Paper Day.

  • Grade Level: 4-6
  • Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Language Arts
  • Suggested Time: 2 class periods, plus the No Paper Day


Computers with internet access and a word processing program, poster boards and markers, dry erase boards with erasers and refillable markers (optional), classroom laptop set (optional), a few sheets of scrap paper for signs, and paper recycling bins.

National Standards


  • Behavior and regulation.
  • Population and ecosystems.
  • Properties and changes of properties in matter.
  • Populations, resources, and environments.

Language Arts:

  • Evaluating data.
  • Developing research skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Communication strategies.

Social Studies:

  • Environment and society.
  • Roles of the citizen.

Ohio 2010 Standards


  • Changes in an organism’s environment are sometimes beneficial to its survival and sometimes harmful. (4)
  • Organisms perform a variety of roles in an ecosystem. (5)
  • Changes of state are explained by a model of matter composed of atoms and/or molecules that are in motion. (6)

Language Arts:

  • Draw evidence form literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (4)
  • Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently. (5).
  • Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism. (6)
  • Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably. (4, 5)
  • Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understandings of a topic or issue. (6)
  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (4-6)
  • Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. (4-6)
  • Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace. (4-6)
  • Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. (4-6)

Social Studies:

  • People have modified the environment since prehistoric times. There are both positive and negative consequences for modifying the environment in Ohio and the United States. (4)
  • Variations among physical environments influence human activities. Human activities also influence the physical environment. (5, 6)
  • The choices people make have both present and future consequences. (5, 6)


The student will be able to:

  • Research current paper use in the United States and its impact on the environment.
  • Identify ways to reduce paper use.
  • Create a poster to inform others about paper use, environmental effects, and paper saving strategies.
  • Plan and advertise a school-wide No Paper Day, including a paper recycling drive.

Teacher Preparation

Gain support from the building principal and other staff to hold a No Paper Day.


  • Ask students to brainstorm on the board all the ways that they use paper at school and at home (create two columns).
  • Ask students how the 3 “R’s” can be used to save paper.
  • Inform students that they will be sponsoring a No Paper Day for the whole school, which will combine reducing, reusing, and recycling strategies.


  • Students should research the following questions, using the web sites below. Display these questions in a paper-free way, such as the board, overhead projector, or PowerPoint slide.
    • How much paper does the United States use every year? How does this compare with other countries?
    • How does paper use affect the environment?
  • Helpful web sites:
  • Students should research ways to save paper. The following web sites are helpful:
  • As a class, discuss findings and record statistics and paper-saving strategies on the board. Help students to consider the following tips for a No Paper Day:
    • Use no new paper, only scrap paper (already been put in the recycle bin).
    • Encourage students to bring lunches in reusable, non-paper lunch bags.
    • Art teachers should use non-paper mediums, preferably re-usable mediums such as canvas or clay.
    • Use paper alternatives such as the chalkboard, laptops (students may email teachers work), or individual whiteboards with refillable dry-erase markers to do classroom work and
    • Obtain permissions to unplug copiers and printers for the day, and create signs from scrap paper to explain the reason.
    • Identify exceptions for the No Paper Day (such as toilet paper, tissues, and cafeteria napkins).
  • Plan the No Paper Day campaign. Break students into small groups and assign one of the following activities to each group:
    • Create posters advertising No Paper Day, including a paper recycling drive. Encourage students to bring lunches in a reusable lunch bag, and to bring paper from home for recycling collection.
    • Create a poster about paper use, environmental impact, and paper-saving strategies. Students should present to the class and other classes if possible.
    • Write a letter using a computer word processing program, announcing and explaining No Paper Day to staff members. Email the letter to the staff listserv and ask staff to advertise No Paper Day to their students.
    • Write a checklist of printing tips to save paper, using Microsoft Word. Email this list to staff members and suggest posting a copy near printers in offices, the library, and computer labs. See the web sites above for ideas.
    • Write a PA announcement advertising No Paper Day, including the paper recycling drive. Students from the group may take turns, reading the announcement on different days leading up to the No Paper Day, if possible. Also, create signs to post on printers and copiers explaining why they are turned off during No Paper Day.
  • Hold the No Paper Day, including the paper recycling drive. Students should record the amount of paper collected for recycling and create a follow-up announcement to update and congratulate the student body for its paper-saving efforts.


  • The Energy Savings Patrol may add paper recycling to their patrol. Students may look to see whether paper is thrown in garbage cans or recycling bins.
  • Students may write articles before and after No Paper Day for the school or local newspaper. The teacher may contact a local newspaper or news station and invite them to cover the No Paper Day.
  • Students may share their research and printer checklists with their parents or other adults for use in offices and other places of employment.
  • Students may create a plan for saving paper at home and present it to their families. They may hold a No Paper Day at home by turning off printers, using cloth napkins, purchasing recycled toilet paper, using only scrap paper for writing, etc.
  • For sixth graders, discuss the changes the atoms and/or molecules in wood undergo during the paper-making process.


  • Review the lesson and congratulate students on the success of No Paper Day.
  • Ask students to identify paper-saving practices they could continue on a more permanent basis. Write the plan on the board and ask students to sign their names as a pledge to continue saving paper. Encourage students to be a spokesperson for ongoing paper-saving practices in their other classes.
Posted in 4-6, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies.