Electric Hand Dryer or Paper Towels

Some people say I pay too much attention to details of things around me. True or not, here are some small things I remember, they may not be 100% precise to the exact word, but I still remember the gist of these short stories.

On a normal day in College, right beside the school where I went to was a branch of McDonald’s. And during that time I was in there, McDonald’s was doing this earth friendly campaign and had fliers made out of brown recycled paper that had several tips on how to save the earth. In the rest room, after washing my hands I noticed the electrical hand dryer, there was a laminated paper sign stuck right beside it. Talking about how many trees you have saved over the year just by drying your hands with the electrical hand drier. It has some specific statistical numbers on it. And interesting I though, but I never gave much thought into it, since I did not care that much then and all my concern was pass my grades and do my sports and hobbies.

Then out of college, after working for 5 years already, I remember it was 1999 when I had a 10-day to the United States. A real quick vacation. Since it was a quick one, it was mostly going to theme/amusement parks and all these other nice places to go to. And I still remember it was in a rest room nearest to a parking lot at Universal Studios. When I was done with whatever I had to do, and was washing my hands, there were some paper towels. And near it was a sign talking about how much energy is save by using paper towels and not an electrical hand dryer. Which totally reminded me to what I have read in another rest room, 5 years ago, halfway across the globe.

Save the trees or save energy? Electrical Hand Dryer or Paper Towels?

I know there should be someone out there that did some study on this. Complete with the numbers, data of a large sample set and did some statistical analysis and all necessary research. Do I have that? No I don’t. I do not have any numbers to present. But in my opinion, (Note: this is only my opinion and you can defy me, I am just basing this on simple common sense. But of course common sense could be wrong too sometimes.) this is how I view it.

The two situations:

  • Use electrical hand dryer
    • Saves electricity
      • Saves gas/oil (The main source of electrical energy is still natural gas. And alternative energy sources, although widely used is still a minority.)
  • Use paper towels
    • Saves trees
      • More oxygen distribution and less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

What happens if you waste both gas/oil and trees to the point of consuming it all?

Although this may sound a bit extreme, but let’s just say we ran out of trees. And we have to plant trees again. How long will it take to get new trees that can be used for all sorts of industries including paper products? Depending on the tree but some trees you could be usable within 6 years. And with proper management, this can give an monthly supply from then forward and if the demand is high and the supply is low, then invest in more land to produce more trees.

Now let’s say you ran out of oil, fossil fuels. It takes millions and millions of years of decomposed organic matter to make fossil fuels. Which is all part of the oil we dig to today. This oil is where many other gases are derived from, methane, ethane, propane, butane, pentane, hexane, octane and a lot more where even the residue product is asphalt which is also still used for roads. The majority of electricity in the world is still dependent on fossil fuels, even if there are various electrical plants using renewable energy sources like water flow to generate electricity, wind, geothermal sources, nuclear, etc.

So if you are in the rest room with wet hands and you see some paper towels and an electrical hand dryer, what will you choose? The paper towel that comes from trees that can grow and use at least within 6 years? Or the electrical hand dryer that uses electricity that is more often than not from an electrical plant using natural gas from fossil fuels that took millions of years of decomposed organic matter?

Again, I am not the expert, you may know better. And the objective of my post is to basically make you think, find the answers and take appropriate action.

7 thoughts on “Electric Hand Dryer or Paper Towels”

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