Drying hands the green way

WHAT'S the most environmentally friendly way of drying your hands?

When I talk about green issues with people, I am rarely asked about globally important issues like climate change, population growth or holes in the ozone layer.

Yet, when I am asked a question about something much more mundane, the answer can be more difficult.

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The other day, while drying my hands under a hot air dryer, I noticed that there was a printed statement on the top suggesting that it was more environmentally friendly than drying using towels.

To me, that seemed like a bold claim.

After all, the machine was blowing out hot air.

There are three main ways that operators of public toilets deal with drying hands '“ paper towels, hot air dryers or textile towels on a looping system.

Before you can decide which is the most environmentally friendly, a number of issues need to be considered.

Firstly, are the paper towels made of recycled or virgin wood pulp?

What is the manufacturing process?

Are the paper towels able to be recycled?

The hot air dryer will have different environmental factors to consider.

How much energy is used during a normal cycle?

How often is the appliance used?

Is it powered by green tariff electricity?

A good comparison is the debate over disposable versus reusable nappies, which is still not truly resolved.

This has produced different results from both sides of the argument, but largely siding with the commissioning body's viewpoint.

With regard to the hand-drying debate, my gut feeling is that textile towels are the most environmentally friendly solution.

This is not based on proper science though, and possibly just a result of my bias!

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