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Infinity paper - affordable, durable and reusable

Paper is a resource that every student needs. By providing a durable, reusable and affordable paper, students and teachers will never have to be without.

Photo of Akeru Designs
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Paper is a resource that every student needs. However, for some classroom activities the practice is more important than the actual result. Math problems, hand writing, and other class activities can be discarded after completion.


Being limited by writing materials can also limit a student's progress. Running out of paper does not allow a student to move forward with today's class. By providing a paper that does not wear out, the student will have a writing surface consistently available.


Polystyrene sheet is a white, durable plastic that takes pencil well. It is soft to the touch, and can be manufactured in .4 mm (1/64") sheets, resembling paper. Pencils are cheaper than pens to use, and even when erasers are not available, soap and water will remove the pencil marks.


 Holes punched through the sheets will allow local materials (string, etc) to be used to tie them together. In a slightly more expensive version, sheets are die cut to allow for standard coil binding to be used, and can be removed and reordered as appropriate.


Items which are to be kept permanently can be copied or written directly onto traditional paper, however the amount of paper required per student will be reduced dramatically.

Who would implement this?

  • NGOs and Foundations

Cost

Styrene is a very inexpensive and recyclable material. One A4 size of HIPS material at .4 mm (1/64") costs less than $0.12. The manufacturing is basic, using inexpensive set up costs, and can be done at the closest manufacturer. Businesses and individuals can donate material to eliminate material costs. In exchange, companies can show the organizing NGOs logo on their website, along with photos of children using the materials in the community.

Distribution & Delivery

An NGO can organize distribution of materials, potentially along side other programs such as surplus office supply distribution. Teachers can request materials from the NGO in writing or online if the internet is available.

Adoption

There is no new behavior required, outside of using only pencils on these sheets. Teachers can explain to students that these sheets use pencils only, and items that are to be kept permanently can be written on traditional paper.

Local Need. Enterprising Schools has identified key areas of need for Affordable Private Schools. What local learning need(s) does this concept address?

  • English language learning (speaking, reading, writing)
  • Math learning

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. What sort of potential do you think this concept has to be a sustainable business?

Very high potential - 50%

it's good but it needs a lot of work before going much further - 25%

it's got too many open questions right now to say either way - 25%

2. How well do you feel it meets the local needs enterprising schools has identified? (English language, Math, Libraries, Technology, Professional Development)

It fulfills really well on the need its chosen to serve - 50%

It will help, but other solutions might serve the needs better - 0%

It doesn’t really address any of the needs that Enterprising Schools identified. - 50%

12 comments

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Photo of Akeru Designs

Thanks for the comment, Vincent. I do not know of any companies selling styrene paper in this format, but "styrene paper" does exist, but it's a thin styrene foam used in packaging.

I am working by memory from my first hand experiences with this material. Different densities are available, I believe, and its possible that testing will lead to a more specific material selection.

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Great concept, which could potentially lower paper costs & environmental impact in education, and perhaps other sectors as well. Not familiar with polystyrene myself, so would be interested to hear about other's experiences (ease of use, durability, etc.) with writing and erasing on it? Also, are there any organizations out there already producing polystyrene sheets that could be used for this purpose?

Photo of Akeru Designs

... I suppose what is also easier it to assume that sheets can be reused locally. Someone suggested making dinosaurs and other toys out of cardboard. These sheets can also be used in crafts such as dioramas, masks, or as inserts to stiffen fabric crafts. They can also be used as dividers in filing, or to make signage ... I'm brainstorming here. :) That actually seems way more economical than trying to recycle them. (These sheets are easy to cut with scissors, sew with thread and keep folds well.)

Photo of Akeru Designs

Hi Nathan - It's possible that the sheets will have to be shipped to recycling plants outside of the country they're being used in, though recycling facilities do exist.

The material I'm imagining is the sheet material common in hobby building and design modeling. My impression is that this type takes to recycling better than other forms such as Styrofoam, though I will do some more research this weekend and share what I find.

Are there any materials experts out there?

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Good idea! That said, I have a lot of concerns about disposal of these sheets once they simply cannot be used. Polystyrene is very difficult to dispose of in an eco-friendly manner, so how would we get around that?

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DeletedUser

Further on business sustainability, it would be great to develop the ability to make the pages in small batches locally. We probably already have this ability for the custom printing part, but if a local shop in some town could buy, finance or have donated one small machine that would allow it to supply schools in the surroonding towns, that could be sustainable long term.

Photo of Akeru Designs

In terms of business sustainability - A business can sell sheets, optionally pre-printed with lines or grids. The business can also buy back the used sheets if they become damaged for recycling into new "paper".

I think the greatest limitation will be on material costs. Partnerships with
manufacturers looking for charitable donations would be ideal.

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DeletedUser

This is pretty cool Dawn! Paper is spectacularly wasteful and any substitute would be ideal for developing countries.

It would also be quite a cost-mitigating product for municipalities and corporations.

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DeletedUser

Awesome, I think sustainable, affordable and semi-permanent writing tools are a must for this project. A similar idea I submitted: http://bit.ly/acCpA1

Photo of Akeru Designs

@Mark, Yes, of course! Worksheets can be created with marker or pen by the teacher/school specifically relating to what they are teaching, and reused at length by the students. (eg. lines for handwriting, grids for graphing, etc)

Photo of Akeru Designs

@Mark, Yes, of course! Worksheets can be created with marker or pen by the teacher/school specifically relating to what they are teaching, and reused at length by the students. (eg. lines for handwriting, grids for graphing, etc)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great idea! Could information be printed on the sheets? The sheets could be incorporated into language/math workbooks and thus allow the books to be reused.