Monday, July 5, 2010

How to Kill Trees While Wasting Money

There’s a new product out there, designed to help keep your home more sanitary, which seems to have come from some backward-thinking developers. When it seems more and more people are hopping aboard the ‘green’ bandwagon, the folks at Kleenex thought that now was a good time to market an anti-environmental practice, to strike out one of the three ‘R’s - reuse, and push for the use of one-time use hand towels.

Kleenex Waste - How to Kill Trees - Rantomness

The new Kleenex item has no special name (just ‘Hand Towels’), but they’re advertised to be the next best thing in bathroom sanitation. The idea is that your normal, cloth hand towels (or any towels you may use, for that matter) are unsanitary, and using a fresh paper hand towel instead will protect you better from germs. This is both somewhat untrue as well as detrimental to our planet’s health.

First of all, if you are drying dirty hands or some mess with your cloth hand towel, then sure the towel is bound to be dirty. However, if the towel is left instead for drying only freshly cleaned body parts and nothing else, then it will take a lot more use to actually make the towel a threat to your overall health. By then, wouldn’t you have washed the towel and/or replaced it with another from the linen closet? Based on that line of thought alone, the Kleenex towels seem completely unnecessary, don’t they?

Secondly (keeping the first point in mind), is it really a better course of action to use something just once, then throw it away? I know that’s the real American way to do it, but jeeze that’s a stupid way to do things. If your car gets dirty, do you throw it out and get a new one? If your computer gets a virus, do you trash the whole thing? No. So why would you do the same with a paper towel, when simply washing a cloth one will make it like-new, and the process can be repeated over and over again? This seems to me to be just a very lazy excuse for not doing laundry.

Next, think about how many of these towels you may go through in a week or month. Depending on the size of your family, this number may be very large. Now, think about how many trees would have to be felled to produce those towels, even considering possible post-consumer content. To top that, why should ANY tree be cut down when an alternative (normal cloth towel) is available? Again, I refer to laziness as the culprit here.

My last point is about the cost of these towels. Going through so many of these will cost more and more money over time, while a cloth towel will only need to be replaced once in a few years, so the savings difference should be obvious. Why would anyone want to spend more money than needed, especially if there is no real benefit from doing so.

The bottom line is that if you keep a clean bathroom, wash your towels, and only use towels to dry clean things (or else throw them in the laundry afterward), you have no reason to use these towels. So please, if that’s you, don’t waste your money and the environment over some laze on your part.


  1. I asked this question when I was in sixth grade: is it better to use trees to make paper plates, or use water to wash reusable ones?

    But yeah, I saw a TV commercial for these towels a few months ago, and thought they were the stupidest thing ever. I predict the lazy american mindset of "not wanting to take out the trash" is going to win here.

  2. But a plate is typically used just once, whereas a towel is used multiple times before washing. Similar debate, but I feel the towels are a slightly different case.

    As for taking out the trash, I lol'd a bit there. You may be right on that point.


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