With more than 90% of American households enjoying the convenience of paper towels, we produce more than 3,000 tons of waste every day. Is this problem insurmountable? No, if every household simply replaced one roll of their traditional paper towels with paper towels made from recycled paper, we could prevent the waste of 3.4 million cubic feet of landfill space and save 864,000 trees from being felled.
The benefits of recycled paper towels
By using recycled paper towels, we are doing much more than reducing landfill waste. According to Ideal Bite, “For every ton of 100% recycled paper purchased, around 4,000kWh of energy and 7,000 gallons of water are saved. It also avoids releasing 60 pounds of pollutants into the air.”
Reduce paper towel waste
Even using recycled paper towels, people tend to waste clothes. What can you do to help remind people to reduce their consumption of paper towels? You can participate in campaigns against the waste of consumer paper. It’s these very wasteful habits that motivate projects like “These Come From Trees.”
“Remember… These come from the trees”
According to the “These Come From Trees” blog, they are an “experiment in environmentalism, viral marketing, and user interface design with the goal of reducing consumer paper waste.” What exactly is this “experiment”? Using low-cost vinyl decals and guerilla marketing tactics, “The Come From Trees” ad-hoc team spread the message of reducing consumer paper waste. Here’s a breakdown of his strategy:
- People just like you stick “Remember… These Come From The Trees” vinyl stickers on paper towel dispensers in public areas.
That’s all. To quote the These Come From Trees blog, it’s truly amazing “how the right message at the right time can make all the difference.” Since each sticker includes a URL for people to visit (http://www.thesecomefromtrees.com/), they help promote public awareness of this growing problem.
How effective are projects like this?
According to tests conducted by the These Come From Trees team, their awareness stickers can reduce paper towel consumption by up to 15%, they continue, stating that each sticker can save about 100 pounds of paper per year, which is equivalent to a tree. If you consider that the average cafeteria uses about 1,000 pounds of paper towels and that the average fast food restaurant with two restrooms can use up to 2,000 pounds per year, 15% can add up to a lot of savings.
What about reusable replacements for paper towels?
Although paper towels are common, they are not the only solution, products made of cotton or linen can be washed and reused many times. In some cases, sponges that offer longer product life can do the job that would normally be relegated to a paper towel.
Choosing the best option for the situation
While you can easily control your choices at home and guerrilla projects like “Remember…these come from the trees” remind people to reduce their use in public areas, it’s important to always understand the best option for each situation at hand. the one that is found: environmentally speech.
If you dry your hands and have to choose between an electric hand dryer and paper towels, which is the best choice for the environment? While electric hand dryers do have the environmental cost of the electricity used to power them, in terms of overall energy costs, solid waste, maintenance and cleaning costs, electric hand dryers are more efficient than paper towels. While electric hand dryers are continually being improved by manufacturers and continue to become more energy efficient, the paper towel, for all intents and purposes, has hit its stride.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
While you are constantly bombarded by the three r’s, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”, this is yet another case where the three Rs offer society the best solution. By reducing our use of paper towels, we can prevent more trees from being cut down and prevent the emissions created by making new paper. By moving towards more reusable options, like washable fabric, we can stop the waste cycle altogether. By purchasing recycled paper products and recycling our end-of-life paper products, we can conserve our valuable natural resources and reduce emissions.
Convenience items like paper towels started out as a luxury, became commonplace, and are now subject to mass abuse. Who pays the cost of this abuse? The environment. By making smarter choices, we can reduce the paper waste we contribute to and recycle our existing paper products. With an ever-growing population and static land size, we face the sobering prospect of running out of our precious natural resources. Stand aside remembering to keep what and where you can.