Save the Trees — Install Bathroom Hand Dryers

I found it ironic that while reading about the debate concerning the possible fate of 14 old-growth trees on campus to make room for the new business building, I held in my hands a newspaper made from the same source in question.  I am certainly not against the publication of newspapers (including the Exponent) or against logging for that matter, but the debate brought to mind the amount of paper waste that we produce on campus. I think it is so widespread that most of us fail to recognize the sheer amount of waste in the form of disposable bathroom hand towels that departs this campus directly to the landfill.

Granted, these paper towels may now come from recycled paper, but they’re still made indirectly from trees. In addition to this wasteful practice, think of the energy used to produce the towels and the gas and manpower to maintain them.

This campus, with all of its budget concerns, needs to take a hard look at long-term savings, both economically and environmentally, rather than focusing on immediate short-term savings. Modern hand dryers are extremely energy efficient. If we could invest in enough of these to replace the disposable hand towel dispensers on campus, imagine our long-term financial savings and reduced carbon footprint!  I can only hope that something as simple in nature as hand dryers and waterless urinals are incorporated into our new state-of-the-art, energy-efficient business building.  In the meantime, wash your hands, shake them dry, wipe them on your pant legs and enjoy the shade under the old tree grove while it’s still there.

— Josh Rassi, senior in history and education

P.S. After some number crunching: One case of 4000 hand towels costs $40. The Dyson Airblade costs $1200. If an average of 375 towels are used per bathroom per day, the Airblade (aside from energy use, which is low), will pay for itself in less than a year’s time!