Southern African Journal of Environmental Education

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Students’ attitudes to paper consumption in relation to carbon emissions and the impact of electronic course documents

Mubanga Kapuka, Overson Shumba, Wizaso Munthali


The purpose of this study was to assess the impact, in relation to carbon emissions, of electronic course document use and attitudes to paper consumption levels among third- and fifth-year environmental engineering students (N = 78) enrolled in two courses during the 2015/2016 academic year at the Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia. Data were collected through an online survey, to which 40 students provided complete responses, as well as through semi-structured interviews and observations. Overall, 80% of the students in the sample reported that they read electronic course materials. They also indicated that they ‘know a lot’ about sustainable development, climate change, greenhouse gases and global warming, and agreed that efficient paper use is an important aspect of achieving sustainability. Importantly, the study found that the lecturer’s mode of delivery of course materials influenced the students to develop responsible environmental behaviours such as reading and sharing e-course documents and reusing paper.

Keywords: Climate change, paper consumption, education for sustainable development, higher education

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