I’ve been studying my behavior as pertains to my paper towel usage over the last week. I noticed that there were multiple things that motivated my wasteful behavior: finances, time, and mindlessness. I don’t have a car and everyone knows Wawa is notorious for having bad quality tissues and paper towel which seem to do more harm than good when one has a cold. I therefore have to walk all the way down town to get paper towels which takes up more time than I am usually willing to put out considering I have paper towels next door. Once I get there I remember that there are exactly six dollars in my bank account and I can’t really buy a new box of tissues more than once a month anyways. Mindlessness is problematic as well. I realized that when I go to the bathroom before bed my roommate and I almost always go together. We walk in and even though the bathroom is literally just down the hall when I forget my wash cloth I just get a paper towel instead and talk to my roommate while we are at the sinks. When she pulls out an extra piece of paper towel, I do too. I habitually and mindlessly do what she does.
The way I can start to solve some of these issues is by getting my roommate to change behavior with me. She’ll start to bring her face clothes to the bathroom with her too and we will both share costs of tissue boxes and cotton balls which are more efficient to use for makeup removal and colds. Another way that I could solve the issue would be to instead of trying to completely cut down on use of paper towels for other items I would probably have to waste would be to simply focus on recycling the paper towels I do use when I slip up in my attempt to live in a more sustainable way.
An article in the New York Times section about “Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line” titled “The Use and Abuse of Paper Towels” by Kate Galbraith in 2008 talked about how hard it is to solve the issue of people’s over use of paper towels. Galbraith describes over usage of paper towels as a “painful symbol of waste” (Galbraith 2008). She talks about how hard it is to fix the issues with paper towels especially because they often times cannot even be recycled considering they can be mixed in with other waste. Even if some wanted to recycle the paper towel as noted in an article titled “Comparison of Recycling Outcomes in Three Types of Recycling Collection Units” they would have problems because recycling bins would not even be in the area (Andrews 2013). This is something I plan to keep an eye on as well.
Andrews, Ashley. “Comparison of Recycling Outcomes in Three Types of Recycling Collection Units.” Https://apps.webofknowledge.com. Web of Science, Mar. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.
Galbraith, Kate. “The Use and Abuse of Paper Towels.” Green The Use and Abuse of Paper Towels Comments. New York Times, 29 Dec. 2008. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.