The use of chalkboards has been in a steady global decline for several decades due to the introduction of cost-effective whiteboards and whiteboard painted walls. Nowadays, few in business, education, or other fields prefer to deal with chalkboards since they’re messy, cause chalk dust to be scattered around a room, and are high maintenance, requiring regular cleaning to retain their usefulness, and more staff members to do the cleaning. Also, many children and adults are allergic to chalk dust, providing another reason that schools and businesses are moving away from chalkboards.
By contrast, whiteboards, more specifically whiteboard-painted walls, offer a far more convenient and lower-cost option compared to chalkboards and the many difficulties that come with them. Whiteboard-painted walls also have numerous environmental and health-related advantages over chalkboards. Simply put, implementing the use of dry erase markers and ReMARKable whiteboards can positively affect Earth’s ecology and make life healthier for everyone.
Many chalkboards were originally made of dark gray or black slate sheets that had to be extracted through quarrying
Quarrying is a practice that’s extremely damaging to the planet as it destroys habitats, causes soil erosion, and pollutes the air, among other harmful effects. Many slate chalkboards are still being used, but they’re always fixed in specific places on walls, restricting the use of classroom or office space and creating problems for those with motor impairments. Chalkboards also become cloudy and chalky after some time through the use of certain types of chalk and improper cleaning techniques. Today the highest grade chalkboards are made of rough versions of porcelain-enameled steel sheets. However, they’re still messy and difficult to use and are fixed at certain heights, so they may be uncomfortable for some people to write or draw on.
Since chalkboards and whiteboards are now made of similar materials and are comparable in terms of their environmental impact, the debate comes down to whether using chalk or dry erase markers is better for the environment. Unsurprisingly, the use of markers on boards wins out in all respects because of their many eco-friendly benefits.
Chalk is made up of either calcium sulfate or calcium carbonate
Calcium sulfate and calcium carbonate are sourced from gypsum and limestone. Gathering these materials requires a great deal of energy, but the most serious problem is that quarrying the minerals can cause air pollution and the other aforementioned environmental problems associated with quarrying slate, so the process has a detrimental effect both on local ecosystems and communities. Along with the air pollution and other problems caused by gathering the raw materials for chalk, many people who write with chalk use plastic holders to get the most out of each piece of chalk they use, and this creates large amounts of plastic waste, much of which is not recycled and ends up in landfills.
Chalkdust can trigger allergies and can aggravate the symptoms of asthma
Another huge challenge related to chalk is the dust it produces. Chalkdust has been known to trigger allergies and can aggravate the symptoms of children and adults who suffer from asthma. By contrast, dry erase markers produce no particles that contaminate the air, making them a much safer alternative to chalk for anyone using them, especially those with asthma or allergies. Also, if you drop a marker on the floor, you can just pick it up and continue using it, but if you drop a piece of chalk, it inevitably breaks apart and is rendered useless, not to mention the need to pick up the pieces and sweep up the chalk dust.
Chalkboards were replaced by whiteboards for many economic reasons
Quality glass or ceramic chalkboards are much more expensive to buy and also to maintain. The regular washing of chalkboards and vacuuming of chalk dust require increased maintenance and hence a higher payroll and costs. Also, many times it’s necessary for well-paid office staff or instructors to clean chalkboards and remove chalk dust, and it’s hard to argue that this type of work is a cost-productive use of such staff members’ time. As mentioned, unlike chalk, dry erase markers don’t break apart and create dust when dropped on the floor, so they’re maintenance-free, and whiteboards are also easier to clean than chalkboards.
Chalkdust shortens the lifespan of computers and other electronic equipment
Chalkdust not only impacts people’s health but also interferes with the well-being of nearby computers and other electronic equipment by getting into the tiniest cracks and crevices in their housings. This increases the need to clean and possibly replace the devices because chalk dust can shorten the equipment’s lifespan, thus generating more polluting e-waste, costing you more money, and causing other painful issues as well.
For example, the system by which individuals and countries dispose of electronic waste poses many environmental and health-related problems. One major concern is that much of the world’s e-waste is discarded recklessly by shipping it to impoverished areas where many people in or near e-waste dumps suffer severe health problems, particularly those who work with the waste directly. One such area is the city of Taizhou in Zhejiang province, China, where researchers recently took air samples. Taizhou is one of the largest e-waste-dismantling areas in the country, employing 60,000 people to disassemble more than two million tons of electronic waste each year. The researchers found that e-waste pollution in the air, which the workers constantly breathe in, causes lung inflammation and stress that lead to heart disease, DNA damage, and possibly even cancer.
When e-waste is disposed of in such places, people’s food, water, and soil can also become contaminated. Another study found that European e-waste is generating catastrophic levels of toxins in the eggs of free-range chickens raised in certain parts of Africa. If a person were to consume an egg originating from an area like this, they could be ingesting 220 times more toxic chlorinated dioxins than the maximum daily intake established by the World Health Organization and the UN’s Joint Food and Agriculture Organization! Thus, switching to the use of dry erase markers helps technology last longer, decreases the number of harmful toxins released into the environment through careless e-waste disposal, and improves public health.
Black or other colored marker on a white background is much easier to read than the reverse
Besides the above-mentioned drawbacks to chalkboard use, many others exist as well. For example, writing or drawing that’s done with a black or other colored marker on a white background is much easier to read than the reverse. This is so because fixating on white text or images on a black background for long periods can strain people’s eyes. White stimulates all three types of color-sensitive receptors in the human eye to approximately equal degrees, making reading white text on a dark backdrop such as a chalkboard stressful to the eyes. Also, when white text is read on a black surface, the iris of the eye opens a little bit more to receive more light, and the eye’s lens is deformed, creating a much fuzzier focus for the eye. This is known as the “fuzzing effect” or “halation,” the spreading of light beyond a text’s normal boundaries to create a kind of fog around the edges of the white image. But when the background is white, as with a whiteboard or whiteboard painted wall, the iris closes a bit more than usual, thus decreasing the effects of the “deformed” lens in the eye.
Whiteboard walls are better than chalkboards for projecting slides and video on to
Whiteboards and whiteboard-painted walls are also better than chalkboards for projecting slides and videos, especially when your projector is connected to a classroom computer. And it’s easier to annotate the contents of a computer projection by writing or drawing on a whiteboard than it is on a chalkboard, especially when a different color such as red or blue is used. Making annotations around a projected image on a white background can make a world of difference in communicating ideas to a group and in helping to diminish eye strain, so in comparison to chalkboards, whiteboard-painted walls again win hands down.