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Disposable? Not so fast…

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Paper towel and napkin use and overuse has long been one of my eco-peeves, but now that a reader alerted me to another shocking statistic concerning our disposable habits, I have to get back in the saddle on this issue.

The stats from American Dryer:

A typical fast food restaurant uses 25 – 35 cases of 4,000 multi-fold paper towels annually which means 9 trees are cut down, 1,000 pounds of landfill waste is generated and 20,000 gallons of water is polluted with chemicals. It is estimated that 35% of landfill waste is paper towel. Although paper towels can be made from recycled materials (and without chemicals), they cannot be recycled.

In the last 25 years, cups and plates disposal’s gone from 190,000 to 930,000 tons. These are things we use for just a few minutes each!

How to take action? Let’s slow down be aware, care, and Bring Your Own. Many places offer real plates, glasses and utensils but we end up taking the disposable stuff out of habit. Do you grab 10 napkins or towels when one is enough? Can you air dry after hand washing? I always carry a bandana in my bag for this purpose.

You know those public restroom hand dryers I mentioned from the “old days”? It turns out they still exist in their new and improved form. I plan to alert my local coffee shops and eateries and encourage a switch. Remember, most service industries pay close attention to customer requests. Don’t be shy – give a damn and make change happen.

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2 Responses to “Disposable? Not so fast…”

  1. The Tao of Change » Blog Archive » Beyond BYOB Says:

    […] admit it, I’m hooked on BYOB – no, not the bottle, but on the many ways I go out into the world prepared to consume less. I […]

  2. The Tao of Change » Blog Archive » Minneapolis - fountains of sustainability Says:

    […] there’s another (like electric cars and electric hand-dryers) retro-solution to both plastic and water waste issues! Remember when most places had drinking […]

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