Clean Hands, Clean Earth

Warner Needs To Dump The Paper Towels!

Arushi Shah, Op-Ed Contributor

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Imagine yourself in the Warner cafeteria eating pizza and ranch. You lick your fingers off and then wipe your hands on your pants because your napkin has ended up crumpled on the ground where you can’t reach it. There is still that dressing that you can’t seem to get off, smeared all over your hands. You get up to go to the bathroom to wash your hands. This is a nice school, so you would expect the bathroom to be nice too. Instead, you walk into damp paper towels all over the floor and a trash can brimming to the top with more paper towels. Disgusted, you step over the paper towels and wash your hands, but then you realize there is no more paper towel left to dry your hands. There is nothing worse than an empty paper towel dispenser and a person left with wet hands. Farmington Public Schools should switch to hand dryers in bathrooms.

Paper towels are not very effective. They make a mess and don’t absorb water properly. Damp paper towels lying around can cause germs, which can lead to illness. Additionally, many people don’t realize paper towels aren’t recyclable and are mostly going to end up in landfills. This could also be a huge factor when it comes to cost because studies show that on average people grab two to three paper towels at once when drying their hands, which can cost over $1000 a year to supply and replace.

Furthermore, paper towels have a huge negative impact on our environment. Trees must be cut down to provide the materials for paper towels. Secondly, transporting the wood to factories and the cost of the manufacturing process itself has a big effect on the environment. Another environmental condition with paper towels is what happens to them after they have been used. Paper towels don’t break down quickly or easily, so they decompose slowly over time. Then, as they begin to break down, they release harmful greenhouse gases like methane into the atmosphere. A paper towel dispenser can create 1,800 pounds of paper towel waste each year, so the waste generated is very significant.

On the other hand, some people argue that paper towels are the better way to go. A lot of people think hand dryers feel like sticking your hand into the mouth of a panting dog, or your hand gets uncomfortably hot. Others have complained about hand dryers causing skin irritation, making too much noise, and being too slow. A study revealed that paper towels were more hygienic than hand dryers. The results stated that paper towels reduced the numbers of all types of bacteria on the hands and air dryers were the least effective method of removing bacteria from washed hands. Air dryers in washrooms are often contaminated and can emit bacteria into someone’s air flow. The bacteria can then be inhaled or get on the person’s body or clothes, causing them to get infected. This issue was not seen with paper or cloth towels.

Fortunately, energy efficient and antibacterial hand dryers can be installed. There are even special hand dryers made for schools and nurseries, so it won’t make as much noise. Paper towels cause too much of a hassle and need to be bagged and removed in bathrooms, and the ones on the floor need to be picked up. That job requires custodians, which we are lacking due to budget cuts. Farmington Public Schools should remove paper towel dispensers and replace them with hand dryers to better serve our environment and our hygiene.

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