People Towels

What is Paper Towels to People Towels?

We are Spencer Taft, Elyse Hahn, and Anke Larsen-Yskamp. As a Junior, Sophomore, and Freshman respectively, we have all noticed that the usage of paper towels here at Brandeis is undeniable, unsustainable, and unnecessary. The beauty of reducing waste is that every little bit helps, and so our mission is to reduce paper towel waste in as many small ways as there are students: by distributing free high quality, eco-friendly hand towels from the company People Towels and promoting sustainable hand-drying practices through flyers featuring our mascot, Petey the Towel Owl.

Petey the Towel Owl

Why should we reduce paper towel waste?

Paper towels account for the vast majority of the volume in bathroom trash cans, so eventually phasing them out will have a strong impact on how much trash is produced in Brandeis’s bathrooms. In addition, while the paper towels Brandeis purchases are technically compostable, it is unrealistic to expect Facilities staff to be able to divert paper towels to be composted while also accounting for other things thrown away in bathrooms, and so the most expedient solution is to prevent as many as possible from being used in the first place. After all, every paper towel used is just more carbon being shipped off to the incinerator. In addition, the reduced volume will ease the burden on facilities staff, and result in cleaner, tidier bathrooms.  

This picture was taken in an East residence Hall bathroom.

This picture was taken in an East residence Hall bathroom. 

The average person uses about 3000 paper towels per year, and 3000 paper towels look like this

The average person uses about 3000 paper towels per year, and 3000 paper towels look like this

How will the program be implemented?

We will order reusable People Towels in bulk, printed with facts about paper towel waste and distribute them to students who have agreed to use them via a Google form. In addition, to promote the program we will use our mascot Petey the Towel Owl as part of flyers posted in bathroom stalls encouraging responsible hand-drying and providing the questionnaire URL to order towels, allowing the program to spread over time. 

Who will staff the program?

This project is not labor-intensive, so any available students could help with distribution and ordering of People Towels. Over time as Paper Towels to People Towels grows, various student-run organizations such as Students for Environmental Action could take over, or even the environmental studies department at Brandeis itself. 

Why use People Towels?

People Towels is one of the most famous green hand towel distributors in the US, using 100% fair-trade organic cotton and green-certified printing dyes. As such, it is a natural fit for the large-scale distribution that the University will require.