Monday, February 5th, 2018

Small Suggestions Count

My employer goes through a lot of paper towel. A LOT. For scale, I work at a large facility with several hundred people, and we work close to around the clock. To say we go through a lot of paper towel would be an understatement.

A couple months ago I took a step back and looked at our washroom facilities. Every day, the garbage can at my closest washroom would be filled to the brim with paper towel. Unless you were to bring your own towel, or wipe your hands on your clothes, there was no other option for drying your hands.

I wrote up a short, two sentence e-mail pitch to the facilities manager. Basically, reducing our paper towel consumption would reduce our waste removal costs, and installing hand dryers would reduce our recurring consumables cost from ordering the paper towel. I half expected it to be rejected, but hey you never know, right?

A couple weeks later I ran into the facilities manager in the hallway after a meeting. He said they ran some numbers, and they determined there would be a cost benefit to installing air dryers in some of the washrooms. They’d install them in the highest traffic washrooms first, and install them in the lower traffic washrooms later on when it made sense to do so budget-wise. Fast forward another 6 weeks to this morning, and two brand new air dryers have been installed in the washroom I use.


Air dryers aren’t perfect, obviously. They are energy consumers after all. That being said, I find when balancing the pros and cons between using a paper towel (resource used) and using a dryer (energy used), I often forget about the energy required to generate the paper towel itself. It isn’t inconsequential. Adding in the fact that my employer has mulled the idea of adding solar power to offset the company’s energy consumption in the future, it just makes sense.

Just a quick reminder that sometimes small suggestions do make a difference.

3 Responses to “Small Suggestions Count”

  1. Xin says:

    It’s great that they took your suggestion! One of my old clerkship colleagues was really good about identifying pushing for changes (though because her first jobs were all federal government things they were much less likely to listen than most private workplaces – they have weird rules about procuring/buying supplies and changes to facilities… happen slowly and unpredictably, even after the facilities people have promised something). Alas, the New York City based federal courthouses are not good about these things, so her big task there was going to be making sure that they actually recycled old printouts/papers (which it’s slightly shocking that they don’t do, because everyone else in New York City recycles!).

  2. Jess says:

    Wow, it’s great that your tip had an impact! I feel pretty bad about the paper towel usage at work too. The trash basket is full of (basically) clean paper towels. I sometimes just skip drying my hands and hold them out in front of me to air dry, like a zombie 🙂

    • The Minuteglass says:

      It felt really good!

      I’ve definitely resorted to drying my hands on my jeans before, but it’s nice to have another option now.

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I'm Cassie.

I'm a petite hourglass, slow adopter, food geek, Engineer, wife and mom. Welcome to the little corner of the internet where I ramble on about random things. Mostly clothes.