Have you ever wondered why Lawrence University, a breeding ground for progressives and environmentalists, is an all paper towel school? Are you surprised by how little quarreling there has been over this injustice? Hello and welcome to Specht Pages, the true and supreme voice of Lawrence University. In this celebratory 33rd issue, we will inform the millions of you in Specht Pages’ weekly readership of the real problem with the university’s addiction to paper towels, along with a lasting solution that will save Lawrence time and money without sacrificing sanitation and hygiene. So sit back, relax and take note as we explore the important things in life.
In a recent interview with Sara Gorton, Facility Services Operations Manager, some morally outraging facts have been exposed. In the time between Jan. 21, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014, Lawrence University used 3,600 rolls of paper towels, costing $52,114 and totaling 4.8 million square feet in size. That’s enough to cover 100 football fields, the entire Lawrence campus or Vatican City. Similarly, if all the rolls were unrolled and lined up, they could stretch from Appleton to Dallas.
Additional costs include the salaries of those who restock the dispensers and who carry out the dozens of garbage bags full of soiled paper towels each day.
As you probably already know, paper towels are not recyclable. This means that every time you use a paper towel, you are sending a wad of biodegradable trash into a landfill. Also environmentally significant is the amount of electricity required to power the motion-operated paper towel dispersers found in the Warch Campus Center (better known as “New Downer” to some of you old timers), Plantz Hall and Trever Hall.
The obvious solution would be to replace paper towels with blow dryers, but alas, the most obvious solution is also very often the most stupid. The initial cost of the hand dryer units, as well as the cost of installation, would be great. Additionally, operational costs would be way too high and the machines have a tendency to spread germs. Also, the machines are slow or loud, neither of which are acceptable, especially when both qualities are found in the same machine — which is usually the case.
By now, you’re probably thinking: If we can’t use paper towels or blow dryers, how are we ever to get our hands dry? Are we to stop washing our hands all together? Should we switch to fast acting, alcohol-based hand sanitizer? Never fear: Specht Pages, as always, has a solution that refuses to compromise.
In the Specht Pages Plan for Responsible Hand Drying (SPPRHD, pronounced “Spearhead”), all paper towel dispensers will be removed and replaced with an illustrated sign that directs bathroom users: “After washing your hands, please shake or otherwise flail them vigorously. Then proceed to wipe them on your jeans or another proximate source of clean cotton” Moreover, Project Spearhead also calls for students in residence halls to wait until they return to their dorm rooms to wipe their hands on their towel.
This plan would involve removing and selling all of the current paper towel dispensers, which would easily provide for the $1,000 budget required for the instructional signs. The rest of the proceeds from selling the dispensers can go towards a campus-wide powwow celebrating our new independence from paper waste.
Finally, the most beautiful part of Project Spearhead is that the savings of over $50,000 a year will fund the Specht Pages Scholarship — a full scholarship for a deserving student picked through a majority vote by the entire Specht Pages staff on the basis of the student’s moral vigor and academic adequacy.
There you have it, a real solution to a real problem from real people.