Monday, December 29, 2008

the paper towel problem

So you just washed your hands in a public bathroom and now face a choice. Do you use electricity and dry your hands with the blow-dryer or do you crank out a paper towel that you will hardly dampen and quickly discard? I wipe my hands on my pants, jacket, whatever... but depending on your attire and location (work) that may not be an option so...

The NY Times Green Inc talked to researchers at Harvard and the University of Oregon and as you would expect, it is a complex issue. The "lifecycle" energy use of the blower is much lower than the paper towels when you figure in the energy intensive mills creation and shipping of the paper towels. Not to mention there is hardly enough fiber in paper towels for them to be recycled. There is talk about composting paper towels but of course you have to factor in other contaminants that could end up in the trash in a public bathroom.

Check out Slate's Green Lantern's detailed take on the debate in this post from earlier in the year.


holly said...

and i would be trapped in the bathroom since i won't touch the door to open it. I need a papertowel...

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