The paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming. We owe it to ourselves, and the environment, to fully commit towards reducing waste through the elimination of paper based routines. Although the U.S. has taken great strides in “going green,” personal consumption of paper is rising higher than ever. Have you ever considered the impact your own usage of paper products has on the world? Let’s break it down even further and solely focus on our paper towel consumption.

Paper towels have long ruled as the choice of habit, even when high-speed hand dryers or dish cloths are present. Yet they are one of the most wasteful things we spend our money on and dispose of every day without regret. It was hard to imagine that something as minute as paper towel usage could cause such a devastating environmental impact – so I did some research. Let’s take a look at the statistics:

• To make one ton of paper towels 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted.
• In the U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year and that number is growing steadily. This equals more than 3,000 tons of paper towel waste in the U.S. alone.
• Globally, discarded paper towels result in 254 million tons of trash every year.
• As many as 51,000 trees per day are required to replace the number of paper towels that are discarded every day.
• If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year.
• If every household in the U.S. used three less rolls per year, it would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees.

These numbers were enough to make me think twice about grabbing the next roll of unnecessarily wasteful paper towels. But understanding exactly how to lessen my personal impact made all the difference. Below is the link to a five minute TED talk where Joe Smith shows us how to use just one paper towel, no matter the type, when washing our hands. This demonstration presents a powerful lesson that even if you don’t go completely paper towel-less, you can reduce your use.

VIDEO: How to Use One Paper Towel

Shake and fold – it’s as simple as that. Not only are you making a major green impact, but you’re saving hundreds of dollars out of your pocket, every year. Maybe you can consider adjusting your paper towel usage. I can admit – I was a 4 paper grabber before watching this video. Shake and fold really works, and I consider you at the very least, to test it yourself.


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