Posted by: hagengreen | December 16, 2012

A wasteful trend

It happens every day, multiple times a day. Nothing more than the usual visit to the restroom. But something else happens on every visit, and I can’t shake the thought. The person in front of me will wash their hands (no matter how thorough), and then proceed to consume paper towel after paper towel. As I walk out of the bathroom, I glance into the trash can. I’m disgusted to see a vast majority of unused, dry paper towels. I never used to notice. But after watching Joe Smith’s TEDx talk about paper towels, it opened my eyes to this epidemic of wastefulness.

Check it out: over 13 billion — yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’ — pounds of paper towels are used by Americans per year. If you could look at each of those paper towels, I’m sure you’d find they weren’t as effectively used as they could have been. But many times, you can’t do much to improve the effectiveness. Some examples include wiping off an oil dip stick, or cleaning up a quick mess off the floor. But the majority of paper towel usage for urban dwellers is in a restroom.

It’s all too easy to grab more than you can use. Those paper towels are begging to be used. Many dispensers used to be manual pull systems, but now most are automated — making it even easier to use more paper towels. It’s hard to do the same with less. Or, dare I say, to be as effective as you are today with much less. I’ve been making a conscious difference for the last several months. And I have faith you can too. What’s the secret? It’s quite simple… first, consider the problem: how do I remove water from my hands? There are many simple ways to solve this problem.

The most effective way to dry your hands is to shake them! Shake them while you count to 5 seconds. Are your hands dry? I bet you they’re close! What next? I grab the smallest paper towel I possibly can. Why even use one? I don’t like to touch the door. (That’s another opportunity! Please let me open the door to leave the bathroom without touching anything.) There’s a sanitary aspect to using a paper towel, but it doesn’t require more than a small one to manage.

If we can all pitch in to make a little difference, not only will you feel better about your level of wasteful consumption, but you’ll also help America save hundreds of millions of pounds of paper towels a year. That’s more than a few trees, fuel, and other energy necessary to create and get those paper towels to their destination. Even though paper towels DO grow on trees, we know that even trees must be conserved. It’s the right thing to do.

Promise to me you’ll try it. Just once. Know you can make a difference. Just a little one, but it will add up. And tell a friend. Help change our culture to be more conscious when it comes to our blind and wasteful consumption habits.


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