Going paperless in a continuously electronic world

Pony Express Staff

Graphic by Drew Jurek


On average, around 40 percent of the waste produced by schools is due to paper towels. Many public places have begun the switch to a more cost-efficient and green device, air dryers. Within the past month, many students left school to protest climate injustice. Despite this recent spur in climate change awareness, students and administration are still reluctant to move to more green options, they do not care to address the problems. The current system is broken and is in need of a fix.

Often students walk into one of the bathrooms they find sinks overflowing with water, the result of selfish students finding entertainment in clogging it with too many paper towels. Then a janitor is stuck cleaning up the mess, costing more money.

Money can be a huge factor. with anything a school purchases. With budget cuts schools may be more reluctant to pay the installment fees and costs of air dryers themselves.

Air dryers make more sense money-wise, paper towels can cost around one cent per sheet, with the average person using 2.5 sheets. Air dryers only cost on average .1 cent in electricity. With almost 3,000 students, that can add up quite quickly.

While some argue that installation and replacement would be costly, the amount of money saved from the switch covers the cost quite quickly. 

Unfortunately, there are not many options to fix the problem. Solutions are few in number, leaving only few possibilities for anyone wanting change.

Possible solutions include rotating towels, but the idea that they will always be dirty keeps students afraid of that option. Others propose types of paper towels that can be easily broken down and recycled. Unfortunately, those can be even more costly than normal paper towels in the long run.

Even though students see a problem, they do not know how to go about fixing it. The switch is seen as more work now, despite the long term gain.

When asked about these issues, students typically agree there is a problem, but they shrug them off. The issue does not bother them, whatever is quicker for them to do and most convenient. If all forms of dryers were completely removed they would just pat their hands dry on their clothes and continue on with their day.

While some argue that we should just recycle the paper towels, paper towels can not be easily broken down and recycled, so they are shipped off to landfills. There is a need to find more sustainable solutions. Everyone needs to sit down with our administration and have a real talk about the broken system in place and genuine ways we can fix it.