Green is in, and there’s no better place to switch to eco-friendly practices than your bathrooms. While switching to greener paper products, energy saving lighting and low-flow fixtures are wonderful; it’s easy to overlook the astounding impact one simple act can have on the environment: drying your hands. Recycled paper towels are a sure bet for improving the eco-friendliness of your restroom, but a bathroom hand dryer can have even more significant results.
The actual cost per usage of a hand dryer is approximately 0.2 cents for 30 seconds of use, compared to the average 1.5 cents per paper towel. But the operating cost isn’t the only factor at play. It’s possible to save nearly $500 per year in washroom costs with an air hand dryer, as it reduces time spent removing trash, refilling dispensers and cleaning up stray paper towels.
It’s tempting to look at the reduction in costs associated with dryers and dismiss them by the amount of electricity they use, but hand dryers are less harmful to the environment in the long run. Over a five-year period, a hand dryer accounts for just over 3,000 miles worth of carbon output, whereas paper towel usage is approximately three times as much. The lower carbon footprint of bathroom dryers means less global warming, less acidification of the Earth, lower rates of ozone depletion and smog burden.
While hand dryers use more electricity, they have a lifespan of around ten years. Paper towels, on the other hand, are produced, consumed, thrown out and refilled with new supplies regularly. The sheer amount of garbage produced by paper towels, even recycled ones, puts them at a disadvantage when compared to bathroom hand dryers. If the dryers are powered using renewable energy sources, the gap in waste production and carbon emissions is further increased.
Hand Dryers Vs. Paper Towels
No matter which aspect you use to compare them, hand dryers nearly always beat paper towels when it comes to savings. From a basic cost-per-use standpoint, bathroom hand dryers are more efficient. Long-term costs, including maintenance, are less for air hand dryers. The environmental savings, as well as the time, saved, more than makeup for the initial investment spent making the switch from paper products to hand dryers. Still, some people are more comfortable using paper towels because it’s familiar: in those instances, recycled paper towels can create both environmental and economic savings in your washroom.