The Paper Towels Problem

by Hajdi Kostova on 29th May, 2013 at 9:15 AM CEST

When the disposable paper towel was invented back in 1932, no one could predict what a bane toss-away paper products would become and that paper would account for one third of all municipal landfill waste. So a big question arises: Is the continued use of disposable paper products sustainable? Is using cloth towels better for the environment than using paper towels?

Paper towels are dispensed by the hundreds every day in restrooms and kitchens worldwide. So let’s explore the solutions for this problem.


The average person grabs 3 or 4 sheets at a time in restrooms. But can we dry our hands with less paper towels than we usually grab? We can, and the solution involves only one paper towel, 12 “shakes” and a couple of “folds”. Let’s watch this 4-minute TED talk so it all becomes clear.


Saving trees was never so easy. I hope this video made you aware of your paper towel consumption and it will cause you to think twice about grabbing one too many towels it the future.


On the other hand, when you’re in the kitchen cooking and something poured, it’s easier to grab a paper towel and dry it right off. You might be in a hurry and you can’t do the 12 “shakes” every time you get your hands wet. Not to worry, there’s a solution for this as well.

We all have kitchen (cloth) towels but sometimes it’s easier and faster to use a paper towels. That is why, this solution combines both. “The Unpaper Towels”  are made from a 100% cotton print and backed with a thirsty 100% cotton terry cloth (just like a wash cloth). Each towel has three snaps on each side. There are twelve machine washable, dryer safe towels that fit perfectly on any existing cardboard towel tube using the three included snap adapters. For more information visit their website.

The paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming. A staggering 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used every year by Americans only. That is  around 130 million trees. The fact that a typical paper towel is manufactured using chlorine, which releases carcinogenic dioxins and furans only makes it worse. That is why I believe that these two simple solutions can make a big change. Please keep these facts in mind next time you reach for a paper towel. Thank you.

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Audrey Tangonan

Audrey Tangonan

This is such a brilliant invention! I hope it's available in my country!

3rd June, 2013 @ 6:10 AM CEST

Samuel Duru

Samuel Duru | Action team

Wow! I love this piece. It's very informative and educative, and it's an eye-opener. I must remember to apply the sustainability tips - the reusable towel is the most brilliant stuff.

3rd June, 2013 @ 10:45 AM CEST

Bistra Kumbaroska

Bistra Kumbaroska

Hajdi is always awesome and recognizable in her writing style
I love the TED talk and I am sure it will serve as an eye-opening video for a lot of people. Great one!

3rd June, 2013 @ 11:02 AM CEST

Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

Dear Hajdi !
thats brilliant invention. very impresive style and theme....

very well done!

Keep it up!

4th June, 2013 @ 8:07 AM CEST



I like your writingskills.

Truly for environmental sustainability, fight global warming and reduuce waste we need to cut down on our use of paper towels.

4th June, 2013 @ 2:49 PM CEST

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