Image: Paper towel dispenser overflowing

Save the World One Paper Towel at a Time

It’s rare that we run into a simple but transforming “life hack” on the internet that actually works and is a win for the planet. But my friends, in this article, we have one (and it won’t take an entire afternoon of work to master).

Let’s talk paper towels. Not the fancy fluffy ones, but the paper ones that you find most often in public bathrooms. Do a quick mental assessment: How many do you go through when you go to dry your hands? 2? 3? 7? How often do you just mindlessly push down that little lever or keep pulling out paper towels?

They’re easy to overuse. The US alone goes through 13 billion pounds of paper towels a year. So, now we’re going to show you how you can make a dent in reducing this pile, and leave you with a tip that I still can’t get out of my head.

Image: Paper towels dispenser overflowing
Source: Wikimedia

Enter, the Shake and Fold one towel method.

So this method isn’t new news at all. In fact, this TED talk has been around since 2012 and has amassed almost 7 million views. But here’s the thing, it works! And if something can stick around for this long and be just as relevant, there has to be something to it.

The one towel hand drying method was perfected and popularized by “proper paper towel use” advocate and former District Attorney in Umatilla County, Oregon, Joe Smith. It’s a simple concept that will leave you the most empowered and eco-friendly occupant of any public bathroom.

Okay so let’s get into this great TEDx talk and get our shake, fold, and dry on!

Via: TEDx Talks 1

I’m pretty sure the first time I watched this was in 2013, and now every time I reach for a paper towel I think about this TED Talk. It’s a tough tip to forget!

The Shake and Fold Method at Work

1. Shake your hands 12 times
2. Fold your towel in half
3. Dry your hands

It’s simple, clean, and effective!

Our Plastic Waste Problem: It’s Not About Perfection

We all know that plastic waste is a huge problem, but what are we supposed to do about it? Turns out there’s a lot we can do with just a few little changes!

Read More

But what about hand dryers?

Okay, so those hardcore questioners in the back who still aren’t convinced, how am I going to get you onboard? Why don’t we take a moment to break down why hand drying is so important in the first place (and no your pant legs don’t count). We’ll also take a look at the hand dryer versus hand towel debate! Thankfully we have the amazing, fact-filled, and always entertaining YouTube Channel AsapSCIENCE to guide us through these scientific lines of questioning.

Via: AsapSCIENCE 2

Alright people, so no matter your dryer style, use soap, and get those fingers dry!

Now, I couldn’t ask you all to change your habits without doing it first myself. So, for the past month, I have been focusing hard on the one towel method (I’ve even been using a similar method when I go to the gym and have to wipe down my machines). Let me tell you, IT WORKS. I’m a stickler for hand dryness out of the bathroom, and I can officially say, you can dry your hands with one towel.

Not to mention when you are in a crowded Chicago airport bathroom and you are using your one towel as the other people take 8 or 9, you really get a feel for the impact you’re having.

So yes, give this a go, try it for yourself. Yeah, you’ll mess up—old habits die hard—but just keep reminding yourself “only one” as you reach for your paper towels and you’ll have made a start at it!

Get out there my friends and start changing the world. If only one hand towel at a time!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Don’t miss out on a single article!

Enjoy unlimited access to over 500 articles & podcast that give you a positive perspective on the state of the world and show you practical ways you can help.

Sign up now!

Notes:

  1. Smith, Joe. “How to Use One Paper Towel | Joe Smith | TEDxConcordiaUPortland.” YouTube, TEDx Talks, 17 Apr. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FMBSblpcrc. Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.
  2. “Paper Towel vs Hand Dryers.” YouTube, AsapSCIENCE, 18 Sept. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g4fWaegoDk. Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.
Published: January 24, 2019

Image: Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Liesl

CEO

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at the Goodness Exchange. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

Join for as little as $2 per month

Connect with and learn from others on a member-exclusive platform. Ask questions and find help with projects, share trusted resources, request and attend workshops, and learn from others’ experiences to catalyze your work.

Become a Member

Follow Us

You’re not alone in caring.
There is a wave of goodness and progress well underway, all around the world.

Want more articles like this one?
You're in luck! 

Discover real-life stories of innovators, change-makers, and problem-solvers.

Enjoy 30-days of unlimited access to hundreds of articles and podcasts when you subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Want more articles like this one? You're in luck! 

Discover real-life stories of innovators, change-makers, and problem-solvers.

Enjoy 30-days of unlimited access to hundreds of articles and podcasts when you subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.