Even the smallest changes in the workplace can move businesses down the road toward becoming green companies. Just one simple change is to determine which is more environmentally-friendly: hand blow dryers or paper towels. The answer is slightly more complex than it first appears.
How Hand Blow Dryers Impact the Environment
The main factor that influences the impact of hand dryers is their source of electricity; obviously, fossil fuels have a far greater environmental impact than renewable energy. The average dryer uses around 2,200 watts of power to run, which means for the 30 seconds it takes the average user to dry his or her hands, the dryer uses 0.018 kilowatt hours of electricity, according to Livestrong.
How Paper Towels Impact the Environment
The effect of paper towels on the environment depends on factors such as the material with which they are made and how they are disposed. For instance, most enter a landfill, where the waste decomposes in an oxygen-starved environment and releases methane.
Deforestation is less of an issue with paper towels as most are sourced from commercial forests that are regularly replanted; however, the process of logging, milling and transporting materials consumes significantly more fossil fuels than the manufacturing and transportation of hand dryers, which typically only require replacement every 10 years. This being said, recycled paper towels may cut energy use by up to 40 percent, according to an EPA estimate.
The Best Option
Generally, hand dryers are the more ecological choice as they cause between 9 and 40 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per use compared to the average of 56 grams of carbon dioxide emissions for paper towels, reports Climate Conservancy.
However, the best option of all for green companies is to use the newer, high-speed models of hand dryers. These are extremely efficient and blast cooler air than traditional models. These two factors combined make such machines as much as 80 percent more efficient than the hot air dryers of the past.