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Greenhouse to replace paper towel dispensers with dryers

Dominic Piacentini

Editor-in-Chief Greenhouse is campaigning to replace paper towel dispensers in campus restrooms with automatic hand dryers as a part of their waste reduction initiative. The organization is The College of Wooster’s student-run environmental activism group whose goal is to promote energy saving and sustainability consciousness on campus.

“We continue to strive for more eco-friendly and practical alternatives for the College,” said Joy Boonparlit ’17, co-chair of the Energy-Waste Committee. “Hand-dryers just seemed the next logical step after the re-usable mug and container campaigns.”

Greenhouse is the organization behind 2013’s ban on the sale of bottled water at campus locations and this year’s introduction of re-usable to-go containers to reduce the amount of waste the College community produces. Reducing paper towel waste is Greenhouse’s next goal in their ongoing initiative to reduce waste.

The campaign began last year when Boonparlit and her current co-chair, Leandre Forte ’17, expressed their concerns regarding the large amount of waste produced by paper towel dispensers across campus. Dylan Hamilton ’17 joined their initiative, and the Energy-Waste Committee was established with co-chairs Rita Frost ’14 and Grace Lawton ’15.

According to Boonparlit, the campaign has taken off this year, and Greenhouse has been approved to install six trial hand dryers by the end of the semester in three different locations. In this preliminary stage, the Waste Committee plans to install three dryers in men’s restrooms and three dryers in women’s restrooms in the first floors of Lowry Center and academic buildings Morgan Hall and Kauke Hall. Greenhouse chose these locations in particular because of the high number of students, faculty and staff that use these restrooms.

“While the trial is being run,” Hamilton details, “we will be collecting responses and concerns made by students, faculty and staff, which we will need to address for the full implementation” Hamilton went on to explain that “once the full implementation has been approved, the hand dryers will be most likely be staged steadily, due to constraints in budget and availability of the facilities staff to install them.”

Jesse Tiffen ’15, member of Greenhouse and the Food Committee, explained why the change is important for the campus and for the environment, saying, “We put a tremendous amount of money and energy into creating the chemically pulped paper that we use for five minutes and throw away.”

In addition, Tiffen noted that the paper waste becomes a burden to custodial staff, given that the majority of waste in restrooms is paper towels.

Secretary of Greenhouse Margaret New ’15 works with Babcock Hall’s custodial staff for Just Work, an experimental class on campus taught by Chair of the Religious Studies Department Charles Kammer, III. She explains that “taking out the trash and cleaning all the stray paper towels out of the restrooms takes up a lot of [the custodial staff’s] time.”

Boonparlit and the Energy-Waste Committee’s goal is to install hand dryers in all academic hall restrooms, and they hope to then possibly move the campaign into residence halls as well. Greenhouse and the Energy-Waste Committee are involved in the budget planning, coordinating with Facilities Management and Planning, and they envisage the trial hand dryers being installed before the end of the semester.

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