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  • Writer's pictureMetro Recycling


Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Posted on March 25, 2016

Paper Towel

1,000,000,000. That’s a big number. What if I told you that’s how many pounds of paper towels are used in the U.S. every year. Would you believe me? No? Good, because the actual number is 13,000,000,000. 13 billion pounds of paper towels—every year! That, my friends, is a lot of trees.

So, why do we use so much? Well, there is an answer as to why. Paper towels don’t contain significant amounts of fiber for recycling when they’re dirty or wet. What happens is they degrade even further and in turn become completely non-recyclable.

You may be asking yourself what you can do to change that number. First off would be to cut down on the amount of paper towels you use per day. If all Americans used one less paper towel a day, 571,230,000 pounds of paper would be spared over the course of the year. Joe Smith, former District Attorney for Oregon’s Umatilla County and former chair of the Oregon Democratic Party believes there is a way to use only one paper towel at a given time.

His solution? Wash your hands, Shake excess water off your hands at least 12 times and fold the single sheet of paper towel in half. The one towel soaks up whatever leftover water hasn’t been shaken off and folding it in half makes it more absorbent.

Next time you need to use paper towels, remember the impact that using one less sheet of paper towel can do for the environment. Take the first step and others will follow your example.

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