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Laur Hesse Fisher

May 8, 2014


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You may enjoy this TEDx talk on the subject: You use paper towels to dry your hands every day, but chances are, you're doing it wrong. In this enlightening and funny short talk, Joe Smith reveals the trick to perfect paper towel technique. (Filmed at TEDxConcordiaUPortland.)

Doron Bracha

May 9, 2014


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Good idea and great TED talk. Yet how do we get people to change their habits?.. One way is to install electric dryers and provide no paper towels at all. That has its own issues like carbon footprint, energy consumption and very loud noise. That also doesn't help much when you need to dry your face or hair (for example after a quick refreshing wash after ridingthe bike to work). We could remind people and raise awareness by posting these stickers on the paper towel dispensers: Another affective way may be to design dispensers that make it harder to pull more than one towel at a time. Certain types of touchless dispensers reduce consumption by controlling the dispense. To encourage users to reduce consumption, signs can be posted, with info on the savings and protecting the environment (like at waterless urinals). Cheers !..

Neil Harrison

Jun 17, 2014


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I'm with Doron, making towels more "costly" in some way would reduce their usage. The easier it is get a towel our of a dispenser the more towels will end on the floor or discarded after minimal use. In general. I don't expect reliance on ethical or altruistic behavior to 'move the needle.' But the more that we can harness self-interest to reduce consumption (make it harder to consume or less attractive) the less consumption will take place. Another angle might be in the reuse and recycling side. Technological innovation may allow us to re-use paper over and over again by being able to incorporate short fibers into useful towels. Generally, every time paper is used and re-used the fibers shorten restricting the number of times that fibers can be re-processed into new paper products. Tissues can be made from recycled magazine paper for example but if magazine paper or computer paper could be processed into envelopes, then towels then tissues we can use the same essential resource more efficiently. Unfortunately, paper production is quite energy inefficient. Innovations that reduce energy use in manufacturing, therefore, could also be useful. Reducing usage and increasing innovation may be opposed. If demand falls, producers are less likely to invest in new production techniques. But innovation could be stimulated by instituting taxes to compensate for the natural sources used in and the pollution emitted from production.

Pianpian Wang

Jun 18, 2014


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I think multi-ways can be implemented. Like Mr. Harrow said, using recycle paper is quite popular. Also, we can not stop educating people to change their behaviors.

Climate Colab

Aug 5, 2014


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We feel that while the idea is good, it's not novel at all. The recommendation to use less paper is already found on many paper dispensers. If it is not the case in your state or municipality, you should call a representative and ask that this be implemented.