By Saba Mann
To reach sustainability goals at the university and continue the Green Scene initiative, paper towel dispensers will eventually be removed from all buildings on campus.
The Office of Facilities Management is currently working on introducing hand dryers in facilities where there are none. In the meantime, paper towels will remain in bathrooms that do not already have hand dryers.
Each hand dryer unit reduces approximately 1 ton of C02 emissions a year, which is equivalent to 85 trees, as listed on the Dyson Airblade dryers across campus.
“I think it’s a good step,” says freshman Farwah Narjis. “It’s good for our environment too because it eventually contributes to using fewer trees. It would result in having fewer paper towels all over the bathroom floor, which would decrease the messiness of the bathrooms.”
This also comes at a time where climate activists such as Greta Thunberg, leading climate strikes across the globe, and clean water advocate Autumn Peltier are on the rise.
However, not all students agree with the move. Freshman Kylie Pinkans believes there could be alternatives to reducing paper waste.
“Maybe having assignments be electronically handed in instead of printed to save paper because paper towels are sometimes necessary, especially in the dining halls and such.”
Despite the University's advice posted in most restrooms advising people to shake their hands twelve times before folding a paper towel in half to reduce the number of towels used, getting rid of dispensers entirely will help reduce waste dramatically, as noted by the Office of Finance and Administration’s Assistant Vice President, John Giarrusso.
"Not only is it helping the environment, but it will also help reduce university spending. Also notable is less mess with strewn paper towels in any given location," Giarrusso said.
The bathrooms being prioritized in new hand dryer installation are the ones used more often in high volume locations, such as the Campus Center.
However, removing the old dispensers in bathrooms where there are already hand dryers is not taking priority for a number of reasons.
According to Giarusso: “Removing them requires patching, painting, and other repairs, so we’ll leave the dispensers in place for the time being.”
In the meantime, the old dispensers will simply not be filled with paper towels, with some being adorned with a sign explaining UAlbany’s commitment to sustainability over the holes where paper towels were dispensed prior.
“I think it’s a good idea because paper towels hurt the planet," says freshman Iqra Memon. "I noticed a lot of people use too many paper towels to dry a bit of water on their hands and they’re using so much, 4-5 at times. In the long run, installing hand dryers would be efficient and you don’t have to pay as much, especially since you can’t waste air.”
The installation process is still in the works, and it is unclear when the dispensers will be eliminated.
To learn more about sustainability at UAlbany, you can visit www.albany.edu/gogreen.