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We all want to be quick and efficient during toilet breaks, especially when drying our hands. People who dry their hands, often find themselves using paper towels or hand dryers to get the job done, without really thinking about the impact that both products have on the environment. Both contribute to global warming and produce a carbon footprint; however, one product is greener than the other and has less of an impact on the environment. In this blog, I will be discussing the pros and cons of both products and then concluding on which one you should use to reduce damage to the environment.

How environmentally friendly are hand dryers? – It really depends on the model. In an ideal world, you would want to use a hand dryer that uses renewable energy, like solar power but most people use gas or electric-powered dryers. I guess that’s the first pro of the hand-dyer – there is the option to use renewable energy and many low-energy usage models to choose from. Did you know that “most modern low-energy hand dryers keep electricity bills down”. This helps the environment as they are up to 80% more efficient than older models”- meaning that they are always improving and becoming more friendly to the environment as the years go by. That leads me to my next point, hand dryers can last years, making them even more efficient and worthwhile. They also create less mess and are a lot quicker at drying your hands. The only negative side to these machines is the maintenance costs and they are “not considered as hygienic as paper towels and are known to spread bacteria. Standard dryers can blow bacteria up to 6.5 feet”.

Paper towels are also very quick to use, although not without creating a lot of mess and needing constant disposal. Not only does this create a lot of labour costs, but it also increases its carbon footprint due to the delivery and binning process every few weeks. As a result of this, they are not sustainable in the long run and have incredibly high running costs.

According to the EPA.GOV “in 2018, landfills received 17.2 million tons of MSW (Municipal Solid Waste), paper and paperboard. This was 11.8 % of MSW landfilled in 2018”. Additionally, paper towels require a lot of wood to be produced, which is a big no-no within the environmental community. Studies found that, in order “to make 1 ton of paper towels, 17 trees and 20,000 gallons are used”.

This goes to show that creating paper towels leads to the destruction of trees and the loss of natural habitats. This shows that paper towels are not the way of the future they are a huge factor in the destruction of it. Not only do they contribute to the planet’s demise when cutting down trees, but they also require factories to create them, which are huge emitters of pollution. Now in saying that, hand dyers also have factories, where they are manufactured. However, in this case, I would argue that hand dyers are made less frequently, which already makes them more environmentally friendly. In the case of paper towels, I would strongly argue that the bad outweighs the good. Yes, they are more hygienic than hand dryers and make less noise, but other than that, I don’t find anything else appealing about them.

Overall, I really have little to no reason to argue for paper towels – this method of hand drying is not only outdated but also significantly bad for the environment. Regarding the pros and the cons, yes, the hand dryers are considered less hygienic and create a little bit of noise – that’s about it. Paper towels on the other hand have a high running cost, make a lot of mess, are outdated and are bad for our planet’s health.

This isn’t even really an argument at all, hand dyers are superior in almost every way. In conclusion, buy a decent hand dryer (which will last you years) and one (if possible) more environmentally friendly, i.e., requires low energy consumption.


Hand Dryers VS Paper Towels – Comparison [hygiene, cost, noise] (trichem-solutions.co.uk)

Paper Towel Usage Facts – Amazing things you need to know – Eco Family Life

Hand Dryer vs Paper Towels – Difference and Comparison

Paper and Paperboard: Material-Specific Data | US EPA