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Topic: Case study

Always challenge convention: Reusable paper towels

I went to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference last year in Baltimore. The 4 days I spent there were very rewarding. I met literally 100s of sustainability people and attended an eye watering spectrum of sessions and workshops.

I had the fortune to attend a session by PeopleTowels.

PeopleTowels is a 100% certified Women Owned Business and offer an alternative to paper towels. Which piqued my interest as we all know reuse is the most effective use of materials. 

PeopleTowels offer a non disposable towel which is used to dry your hands after visiting the bathroom. This solves the whole "What's better for the environment disposable paper towels versus hand dryers" debate forever!

I thought this was very interesting as this is not common place in the West...but it should be! In this article we interview some of the main protagonists for switching from disposable towels to PeopleTowels!

In this session we talk to Mary Wallace from PeopleTowels and joni newcomer New Mexico State University Sustainability Manager (joni doesn't capatalise her name for some great reasons) about the motivation behind PeopleTowels.



People have to wash their hands for hygiene reasons. This is a fact. PeopleTowels are helping us do this in a much more effective manner.

I think the key takeaways here are

  • Challenge convention: We should always be on the look out to challenge cultural practices which are often ignored because the practice is so ingrained.
  • Being exposed to differemt cultures (other countries, sectors or organisations) helps to stimulate innovation.
  • Disposable anything is really dumb. Why use all of that energy and resource to produce something that lasts once?
  • The problem of drying one's hands wastes a great deal of energy and resources and we should look at an alternative- which PeopleTowels provides.


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Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor

I use my time and experience to contribute to the transition to a regenerative sustainable society for all.

Topics: Case study

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