Paper towels: a school’s worst nightmare

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In many school communities throughout the United States of America, paper towel consumption and wastage is very high. Despite the clear detrimental effects caused by the consumption of paper towels, schools still need to heavily reduce their use of paper towels and other single-use resources. Within my school, paper towel consumption has taken shape as a new issue—vandalism and careless trashing of our bathroom facilities result from the unhinged access to paper towels. At my school, the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, the frequent unavailability of properly functioning and stocked paper towel dispensers in certain areas around the building frustrates the school community and prompts action. As a former Granby high school student, I can vividly recall the same issues being prevalent there. Due to this issue, three friends and I have decided to create a project that attempts to address not only the lavish and unnecessary levels of paper towel usage in our school, but also to attempt to put an end to the misuse of school facilities by enacting energy conservation measures.

You may not be surprised to learn that school bathrooms each tend to go through multiple rolls of paper per day—taken as a whole, the numerous bathroom locations in a school building can contribute to extreme levels of paper waste. People tend to carelessly take multiple sheets of paper towels when just one or two are recommended and needed. states that “544,000 trees could be saved each year if each U.S. household used just one less roll of paper towels.” The improvement on our environment could be staggering if paper towel usage in school restrooms could be eliminated or at least significantly reduced.

Paper towels have a far-reaching negative contribution to the deterioration of the environment. According to, “17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted to make just ONE TON of paper towels.” [2] The statistics very clearly indicate that there is an immense environmental impact associated with the overuse of paper towels. Significant projected energy savings are in store if the needless usage of paper towels is addressed. Monetary savings are just as much to be expected—the average cost of a case of 12 rolls of 1-ply brown paper towels is about $30. Considering that several rolls of paper towels are consumed per restroom per day, the cumulative expenditure of paper towel, and the directly following cumulative savings of pursuing air drying methods, is remarkable.

Ultimately, schools have a paper towel epidemic. This epidemic, as stated earlier, is exceptionally harmful to not only the school environment but also the environment in the community. To help amend this problem, the increased implementation of air dryers would profoundly help the paper towel epidemic.

Sources: [1] Smithers, Rebecca. “Paper Towels Least Green Way Of Drying Hands, Study Finds”. The Guardian, 2019, and [2] Mushala, Amos. “Everyone wipes! We all wipe something, somewhere.”. Betterplanetpaper.Com