OPINION: More hand dryers needed in bathrooms


(Photo courtesy of Richard Masoner - CC BY-SA 2.0) The excessive amounts of waste caused by paper towels that come from our school bathrooms are taking a toll on our environment while we our blind to the benefits of using hand dryers.

By Gabby Pawlowski, Contributor

Washing your hands is a simple task. Run water, apply soap, wash it off, then dry your hands with a paper towel or hand dryer. For some people, the decision between the two is simply a personal preference. But what if it came down to which option was more environmentally friendly? In today’s era, it’s evident that we as humans take steps toward a cleaner future. Paper towels take up two percent of the US landfills. Sure, that doesn’t seem too big of a number, but there’s a way to completely abolish that number. Installing hand dryers into bathrooms can reduce the production of litter and environmental degradation.

Right from the get-go, it’s easy to identify that hand dryers produce less waste than paper towels. Using air to dry off isn’t a single-use, like a strip of paper towels is. Once it’s placed into the garbage bin, that’s the end of the line for the towel. Now think about chopping down trees, transporting the paper around and the manufacturing process of inducing chemicals into the product.

Here at West Essex, bathrooms use both methods. Even though a hand dryer can be found here and there, it’s easy to recognize the amount of paper towel waste piled high in the garbage bins. Students gravitate to paper towels, and it’s not hard to see why. The lousy dryers found on the wall don’t get the job done well. Technology isn’t the same as it used to be, even since last year. New models of the products we love to get upgraded so often. Companies like Dyson create energy-efficient, and not to mention, fun to use products. It only takes a few minutes for the machine to dry off hands. 

So the question remains: why wouldn’t our school want fewer maintenance hassles and save money? A hand dryer is said to cost between .02 cents and .18 cents per dry and paper towels typically cost one cent per sheet. That equates to $20 in hand dryer costs compared to $250 in paper towel costs estimated, according to Restroom Direct, a website that gives information about the reality of public restrooms.

The next step has to be done soon. The sooner the community takes action, the more of the environment can be saved. At any time possible, take advantage of the hand dryers and take one step closer to reducing paper waste.