Paper Towel Obsession

A few weeks ago in class we watched a YouTube video titled “Paper Towel Ted Talk.”  In this video the narrator exemplified all the different ways in which we waste superfluous paper towel while trying to accomplish the simple task of drying our hands. His argument boiled down to a simple environmentally friendly idea: it really only takes one paper towel to complete the task of drying your hands.

paper towel

I don’t know that I have ever used only one paper towel to accomplish anything…and I seem to use paper towel for a lot of things. As a college student who works two jobs simultaneously and yet never seems to have any spare changes whatsoever, I have become thrifty. Why pay for tissues or napkins when I can simply go take some paper towels from the dorm kitchen or bathroom for free? I use these paper towels as tissues when I’m sick, to remove eye makeup and nail polish, to wipe off my desk and my dishes, to wrap up gum I want to throw in the trash and even to wash my face….and for every single one of these activities, I use more paper towels than I really need to.

My sustainable behavior challenge therefore will be to firstly, utilize only one piece of paper towel when at all possible, and secondly, try and rely on using reusable and washable items like towels or sponges instead of paper towels. I already own both of these items somewhere in my masses of care packages from back home so the first part of the challenge should not be too difficult, I will find both these items and put them in greater prevalence in my room so that I am not tempted into thinking that paper towel would simply be “easier.”  The main challenge I see upcoming is the idea of using only one piece of paper at a time. When I use more than one piece of paper towel doing something as simple as drying my hands it is not because I am trying to be wasteful. The simple truth of the matter is that most of the time I am simply acting out of habit and mindless repetition of the same things I do every time I wash my hands. I will have to try and remember to prioritize this change in my everyday choices.


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