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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

EVS 300


Environmental Science and Policy


The issue of hand drying may at first seem a mundane, trivial matter unworthy of any substantial scrutiny or consideration. However, when evaluated with a level of increased profundity, hand drying becomes a subject deserving of ample, involved analysis. A closer look at hand drying reveals that it is a task that has environmental ramifications that are far-reaching and manifold. It is important to try to recognize these impacts and determine exactly how they effect the environment so that it can then be decided if the impacts need to be changed through the changing of the basic task: hand drying. Hence, this project aims to look at hand drying as it unfolds on the Smith College campus. It explores how paper towel usage at Smith impacts the environment and compares aspects of paper towel use to those of electric hand dryer use to determine whether replacing paper hand towels with electric dryers would be more environmentally friendly. The project also looks at things like the monetary costs of hand drying through the use of different products and then contends that while the initial cost of replacement may at first seem daunting, the use of an energy efficient hand dryer would be more ecologically and economically efficient than the continued use of paper towels both in the immediate and distant futures.


© 2005; Rebecca Keane


Project in collaboration with Kim Wilson.