Paper towels seem like a brilliant invention. What’s more convenient than disposable towels that you don’t have to clean or use again? Just buy new ones and throw the old one away. What we may not think about when using paper towels are the extreme waste that they create, and what their effects on the environment truly are.
Paper towels were first invented as a way for medical facilities to prevent the spread of germs. In the beginning, these disposable products weren’t as popular as they are today, but that changed fast. Paper towels soon were used in households all over America, and the waste started piling up.
The Effects of Paper Towels
Paper towels, like any paper product, are made from trees. That means every time you use a disposable towel, you’re using the inside of a tree to wipe down your counters and surfaces. In your lifetime, you’ll probably use thousands and thousands of rolls, which will is the equivalent of an entire forest. Imagine a local forest that you’ve walked through being completely cut down just for paper towels!
It’s Not Just Trees That Are Being Consumed for Paper Towels
Paper towels use a whole lot more resources than just trees. First, the trees have to be grown to make the product. These might be grown on a farm, or more likely, they’re just cut down. This requires heavy machinery which uses fuel, and man power to get the job done. Those trees must then be transported to a facility to be cleaned and processed. The process will use more resources like oil, and especially water.
Next, the product will be transported to a packaging facility. From there, they will make their way to a warehouse to be distributed, then to the grocery store, then to your home. Imagine the amount of fuel used to transport these trees! This means the less disposable towels and paper products you use, the less trees will be cut down.
Paper Towels in Landfills
Landfills are filled with disposable paper products like diapers, napkins, printer paper, notebooks, tissues, and paper towels. There is no way to recycle or reuse disposable many disposable paper products like sanitary napkins and diapers (not to mention it isn’t sanitary!). What happens to these paper products? Eventually, paper products biodegrade. The amount of time that paper towels take to biodegrade varies, but typically it is about one year. The thicker the towel, the longer it will take to break down into the environment. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the paper isn’t the only thing in paper products, and also that we are using paper towels faster than they can biodegrade into the environment. We’re using our resources faster than we can replace them, and the waste is piling up even faster.
Chemicals in Paper Towels
Paper towels aren’t exactly just trees. To increase absorbency, they’ve been subjected to dioxins and other ingredients (the process isn’t disclosed on the roll of paper towels). They are also …