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Air Dry or Paper

I KNOW this is stupid, BUT.....I was in a restaurant yesterday in Atlanta, and after washing my hands, had the choice to use recycled paper towels, OR one of the hot air hand dryers. Which do you think is better for the environment? The recycled paper, which still gets thrown away and is made in some type of factory, then shipped by truck, train, plane, etc.....or the hot air dryer that uses electricity?

I don't know why, but every time I am faced with actually having a choice, I think of both options and don't know which one is the better choice for the environment. Does anyone else think of stupid stuff like this?  :P

This is NOT a stupid question... otherwise I am also guilty of being stupid.  I've often wondered this... for a while I had myself convinced that it was the hand dryer.  Then I wasn't so sure about that anymore, so I alternated.  I'm still there.

Your post prompted to me to finally take some time to research this online... after wading through a few pages with no answers I found this one:  http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/7-31-2006-104024.asp

There is much said about hand dryers being less effective than paper, but the article seems to come to the conclusion that hand dryers are more environmentally friendly--especially if the establishment has installed 'Xlerator' dryers which take less time to dry hands, and do a better job of it.

Most of the other articles I found were written by hand dryer companies, so I avoided the information they were presenting for fear of bias.  Most of them started off by saying that the question was a no-brainer---one even went so far as it call it 'self-evident'.  Needless to say I became wary and moved on.

When reading the aforementioned article, what hit home for me was the decision one facilities manager made when her learned about the "significant amount of resources used to make paper as well as the large amount of pollutants that paper-making was responsible for discharging into the atmosphere. "  He switched to Xlerator dryers right away.

Most of the argument against dryers and for paper towels comes from the "Hand-washing for Life Institute" (sounded bogus to me at first, but it turns out they are an international organization... however I could find little concerning whether or not they were affiliated with anyone else--like a large paper-towel manufacturer, for example--maybe someone else knows more).  Their argument against hand dryers goes as follows:

Quote:
"Most users walk away with wet hands and wet hands transfer bacteria 500 times more readily than dry hands," says the group’s website. HFL advocates paper towels over dryers because they "remove bacteria from hands and reduce general bacterial counts by an average of 58 percent."

Personally, I think this is just testament to the international germophobia which plagues our planet.  It's why there are such things as mutant bacteria being created from the use of antibacterial products.  Our bodies need to be exposed to germs and beneficial bacteria in order to combat disease/infection.  It does not benefit society as a whole to keep everyone in a sterile bubble.  As a result, the first time you enter an infected area you immediately fall ill--very ill, and you've got nothing built up to fight it.  Bacteria is not all bad.  You'd think we'd have figured that one out by now.  And furthermore, if you catch something it's likely your body is telling you something--'slow down' or, 'I need to detox'.  There's something in you that needs to come out or run its course, so just let it.  It's part of life, you'll be stronger for everything you catch.

Me?  I'll go back to the hand dryers... or maybe I'll chose the '"truly green fallback" and start carrying around a reusable cloth.  Down with paper! (:

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Although I usually use the paper towels (and tear off a small amount), a reusable cloth really isn't a bad idea..

I've always felt like those air driers were crap because they use all this energy and for what? My hands never get dry after using them. If I don't see paper towels I just dry my hands on my pants

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Well Idiolossia, I like this point you make, and agree wholeheartedly! (ummmm...is that a word)?

Personally, I think this is just testament to the international germophobia which plagues our planet.  It's why there are such things as mutant bacteria being created from the use of antibacterial products.  Our bodies need to be exposed to germs and beneficial bacteria in order to combat disease/infection.  It does not benefit society as a whole to keep everyone in a sterile bubble.  As a result, the first time you enter an infected area you immediately fall ill--very ill, and you've got nothing built up to fight it.  Bacteria is not all bad.  You'd think we'd have figured that one out by now.  And furthermore, if you catch something it's likely your body is telling you something--'slow down' or, 'I need to detox'.  There's something in you that needs to come out or run its course, so just let it.  It's part of life, you'll be stronger for everything you catch.

One of my brothers is a surgeon, and although he is required to wash his hands often (between each patient), he told me long ago, when he was still  in medical school, about staying away from anti-bacterial soaps. I agree that we need to be exposed to certain germs in life and to let our immune systems build up their own natural resistance to them.

Oh...BTW....I love your idea about carrying a re-usable cloth or towel! You're a smart one Idioglossia!  ;) Yes you are!

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I like the dryers. If you briskly rub your hands together under the air, they dry much more quickly & actually get dry.

But then, you walk to the door, grab the handle that many people who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom have grabbed . . .  ::)

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in response to the germophobia theory...doesn't it just seem like common sense that if your hands were damp and you blew warm air all over them they would be much more hospitable to bacteria? bacteria does thrive in moist, warm environments. i'm not a germophobe at all but those hand dryer things have always grossed me out. i stick to the paper towels. plus i agree that the hand dryers rarely dry your hands.

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I had to post this picture.....sort of related! Hope it works!

I am pretty much a germaphobe, and if given the choice, I will use the driers but I use my elbow to turn it on. Then when I leave, I use my sleeve or something to open the door or try to kick it open.  My husband and I often exchange "how'd you get out " stories after leaving the public restrooms. We're a little crazy.

Environmentally, which was the original idea of this post,  I would think the drier is better but that's just a gut reaction. I try to keep as much out the landfill as I can.

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I like the dryers. If you briskly rub your hands together under the air, they dry much more quickly & actually get dry.

But then, you walk to the door, grab the handle that many people who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom have grabbed . . .  ::)

Which is exactly why I use a paper towel and then use it to open the door before pitching it in the can.  I know it contributes to trash, but I've watched too many people walk past the sink without bothering to wash their hands.  My bacteriophobia kicks in!

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George Carlin says he builds up his immune system by not washing his hands after going to the bathroom.  ;D

My husband and I often exchange "how'd you get out " stories after leaving the public restrooms. We're a little crazy.

;D  ;) 

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Here in Europe a lot of people still carry the good old cloth handkerchiefs. I usually carry 2, one in each pocket, a habit I picked up from my DH...one is kept clean as possible for cleaning off my glasses...the other is up for grabs. Every year or two we buy a dozen new cotton hankies, as some end up getting stained, torn or simply worn out. I usually wipe my hands on my own hankie in public places, and toss it in the wash the minute I get home. It's me that does the washing and ironing so no one complains.
I do buy paper hankies if one of us has a cold but it's suprising how very infrequently that happens.
EDIT: I just had a thought...now I know what to do with our worn-out cotton sheets...make hankies! Thanks for helping me think of this! Wombles live!  ;)

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Hey Little2Ant!,
That's pretty funny, because I too.... always plan my escape route!  :P

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...one is kept clean as possible for cleaning off my glasses...

I'm a fanatic about keeping my glasses clean & reserve a special cloth for glasses only! Oh, & I never, never, never wipe my specs off without first running them under water. I have kept my lenses mostly scratch free since starting this routine.

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But then, you walk to the door, grab the handle that many people who don't wash their hands after using the bathroom have grabbed . . .  ::)

Has anybody else noticed that it seems to be becoming more and more common to see public bathrooms with either A) no doors, B) doors that are propped open, or C) doors that can be opened without your hands (ie - they swing open both ways, so you can push with your shoulder, etc)?

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Yes Pedlezelnip (nice name)!
I'm actually starting to find restrooms with no doors, AND automatic flushers and automatic soap dispensers and automatic faucets!. The only thing you need to touch is....uh....hummmm, yourself!  :D

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I always wash my hands after using the toilet....but one day I heard a quote and started to think twice:

"A wise man washes his hands after pissing.  A truly wise man doesn't piss on his hands to begin with"

If we don't piss on our hands, why wash them?  I guess it would save water, paper electricity....everything.  But it's so gross to imagine not washing my hands after leaving the bathroom.  Is this just a social stigma....or do you really need to wash your hands after using the toilet?

Also, what about instant hand sanitizer?  In the past I used to use it if the restroom sinks looked foul.  I no longer use them because I am sure they contain gelatin, or are tested on animals. Are their any cruelty-free ones out there?

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Yes, you do need to wash your hands after using the facilities. You *think* you don't get anything on your hands when you tidy up, but you do. My BIL worked for a supermarket chain and they found traces of human urine in some of the meat samples...the butchers weren't washing their hands after the fact. (OK so that's a meat-based example but it caused quite a stir. The same would be getting  on the fresh veg, etc.)
Remember also to close the lid of the john before flushing...sorry to be gross but the spray of dirty water droplets from the bowl isn't visible, but projects at least 9 feet in the air and hangs in the air for a good 20 min or more after flushing. Now...where do you keep your toothbrush?
Good old Castile (natural) soap is good enough, you don't need to use chemicals...but wash well and use plenty of water. Real Castile soap (as in Castilla, in Spain, where I live) is made with olive oil and is good for your skin.

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Davedrum--your posts are always so not what I was expecting to find on the board. So, at this one, I just had to take a peek at your profile--I'm impressed!

Anyhow, about bringing along that reusable cloth--wouldn't that be your jeans? But, in truth, I go for the air dryer--especially now that there are automatic ones that stay on until you're dry, or turn themselves off if you just can't wait that long. I'm just not willing to use more than one paper towel, so my hands don't get completely dry with the paper either.

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