Paper towels or air dryers?

September 21, 2010

What’s the most eco-friendly way to dry your hands?

Arg – it’s not entirely simple.

This much is certain: drying your hands by waving them in the air is the most eco-friendly way to go.  You can also choose to wipe them on your (dark) clothing when no one’s looking– but not everyone likes either option.

Dryers that use just a high-speed blast of unheated air have no power-hungry heating element, so they are by far the next best choice.  The Dyson AirBlade dryer is an example; here’s one in action (25 seconds).

The other two common options, conventional heated air dryers and paper towels, are both far less eco-friendly – but which is the greater villain is less clear.  Most sources rank dryers as more eco-friendly than paper.  (Dryers use a lot of power, but produce no trash.  Paper towels come from trees, and lots of water and energy are used to make them.  Disposal of used paper towels takes energy too – think garbage bags, garbage trucks, landfills.  As well, most people don’t use just one towel.)  But if paper is the only option available, one towel is always better than two.

So, in eco-order: air drying; drying with a high-speed blast of unheated air; drying with a heated air dryer (as short a blast as possible); drying with one paper towel.

Cash from trash

September 7, 2010

Turn some of your trash into cash for your school, charity or non-profit

Imagine if you could turn some of your garbage into dollars…

You can – with TerraCycle!  TerraCycle pays cash for certain items that are commonly thrown in the trash, like empty drinking pouches, cookie wrappers and yogurt containers.  True, it’s just a few cents for each, but those cents can add up – especially in schools, where the daily trash can include hundreds of such items.

Here’s how it works: you go to TerraCycle’s website at (and it has a link to affiliate sites in several other countries), choose which trash item(s) you’d like to collect, and sign up.  Then periodically send in what you’ve collected – TerraCycle and its sponsors pay the shipping, and will send you money for each item.

Get started today – go to, watch the video, and sign up.  It’s simple and there are absolutely no fees!