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Drying To Do Better 2022-07-26 오전 2:25:00

Airborne contaminants, dirty toilet seats, mold and mildew: public bathrooms are grimy places.

Even though I know, every single time I go to a public bathroom with friends, I always feel like I can’t make my friends wait for me, so I try not to take too long. And yes, I think I might have FOMO (fear or missing out) and people pleasing tendencies. So in order to not take too long, right after I wash my hands, I just brush the water off. It’s always either using paper towels or brushing them off. The hand dryer takes too long.

While paper towels generally have a small carbon footprint, collectively, they are contributing to deforestation, global warming, and an ever-increasing waste problem.

In many places around your home, community, and country, there’s a good chance that people are switching from paper towels to hand dryers in workplaces, schools, restaurants, and public restrooms.

According to PubMed Central, most adults visit the bathroom around 8-10 times a day. With an average hand-drying time of 20 seconds, we can expect between 3-4 minutes of daily dryer use per person.

Using an air dryer or paper towel to dry your hands after a wash significantly minimizes the amount of surface bacteria that is left over compared to simply shaking your hands.

Paper towels absorb water to remove it, and when they are thrown away, they carry contaminants with them. If flushed down the toilet, they can, however, result in plumbing issues that cost time and money to repair. According to Cottage Care, America's top house cleaning service provider, in the U.S., we currently use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year and that number is growing steadily. This means that every day more than 3,000 tons of paper towels are wasted in the U.S. alone.

The majority of paper towels are disposed of in landfills, where during decomposition, methane, a greenhouse gas, is created. The garbage can liners, which are also disposed of after being filled and then replaced once more, add to this waste.

It's important to keep in mind that hand dryers don't produce microbes and often have very little bacteria on their nozzles. In certain instances, hand dryers can even be equipped with filters that contribute to air cleaning and contaminant removal.

Hand dryers only need to be replaced after 10 years of use compared to the production of paper towels, which requires much more fossil fuels, and transportation.

According to The Guardian, 7 of the most popular methods of hand drying were compared in a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They discovered that paper towels and warm air hand dryers produce 70% more carbon emissions than the most recent technology.

The MIT researchers took into account recycled paper towels in addition to warm air dryers and hand dryers, which consumers believed to be the most environmentally friendly. However, their environmental impact was determined to be fairly similar to that of normal paper towels.

Compared to the hand dryers that are the most efficient, both use more electricity, water, and trash. In fact, paper towels make up 2% of all landfill waste in the US.

Whenever I use the bathroom and I see both paper towels and an air dryer, I tend to use paper towels solely because it is more convenient. Not just one, but multiple. Of course I know it’s a waste, but if given that option, I will always choose paper towels. This bad habit of ours needs to be changed. It is imperative for us to eradicate paper towels and not be given an option at all.

Currently, using modern, high-speed hand dryers has the least impact on the environment because they use cool air and are more effective than previous ones. According to The Slate, hand dryers are more environmentally friendly in roughly 95% of cases. Hand dryers emit between 9 and 40 grams of carbon dioxide every usage, according to the Climate Conservancy, whereas paper towels emit an average of 56 grams per use.

When all of this information is considered, the best choice (if you don't want to wipe your hands on your pants) is an effective hand dryer. So, the next time you enter the bathroom, think about the ecological consequences of drying your hands.

Writer
한국외국인학교 (Korea International School)
Kaylee Kim
 
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