America's Paper Towel Addiction

January 4, 2019

ID 11786550 © David Watmough |

Apparently Americans have a paper towel addiction. We spend roughly $5.7 billion annually on paper towels, making up nearly half of the world’s paper towel use, with France in second place yet only using a little more than a tenth of what we do in the USA. Are we really so lazy that we can’t wring out and reuse a sponge, a cloth wipe, or washable napkins? Or has Big Towel brainwashed us into believing that paper towels are simply the most convenient method of keeping things clean? It turns out that the reasoning behind our alleged paper towel obsession may reside in how we problem-solve. In using a disposable towel, a mess can be immediately addressed and discarded, leaving no trace or obligation to clean our cleaning supplies. There may also be pragmatic reasons: Using one-time-use towels reduces the chances of cross-contamination and in a public bathroom setting, paper towels may actually be more hygienic than hand dryers, which can spread bacteria.  Whatever our reasoning it doesn't appears we plan to stop using paper towels to clean up everything from spilled coffee to baby dribble to windows. However we can be smarter about using them. Sturdier paper towels can sometimes stand up to multiple applications before they start to break apart. You can also try using fewer towels by folding one in half and taking advantage of what’s known as interstitial suspension to trap water between the layers.

SOURCE: Mental Floss

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